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A Christmas Carol

A Musical in One Act, 14 Scenes. Book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens. Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens. Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens.

Paramount Theatre, Madison Square Garden, New York: Opened 1st December, 1994; closed 1st January, 1995 ( 71 performances)

Story

The musical opens at the Royal Exchange. "London Town Carol" is sung, and lamps glow. Christmas is near and all are awaiting the early close of the Exchange so the holiday can officially start. From bankers to charwomen, all wish each other "A Jolly Good Time,” looking forward to the holiday fun ahead. Mr. Smythe and his daughter, Grace, enter looking for Ebenezer Scrooge, hoping he will give them a bit more time to pay their mortgage. In a draft of cold wind, Scrooge enters with his clerk, Bob Cratchit. Mr. Smythe approaches Scrooge to ask for more time to pay--he needs money for his wife's funeral. But Scrooge denies the request, and tells little Grace, "You'll learn soon enough, child, that Christmas is a HUMBUG!" When asked for charity for the poor, Scrooge replies, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" Cratchit tells him about his sickly youngest son, Tiny Tim, but Scrooge pays little mind to him and grudgingly gives him Christmas off. Scrooge believes that charity has "Nothing To Do With Me,” as he ventures home through the streets, encountering some of the denizens of the city and treating them all rudely. The funeral of Mrs. Smythe passes, giving Scrooge a chill.

We travel to Cratchit's humble home, where Bob Cratchit and his son, Tiny Tim, set off to buy the makings of their meagre Christmas feast. Bob tells his son that "You Mean More To Me" than anything. Meanwhile Scrooge meets his nephew Fred, who invites him for Christmas dinner. Scrooge has never met Fred’s wife, Sally. Fred assures his uncle he wants nothing from him, but Scrooge sends him on his way.

Scrooge’s harsh treatment of his fellow Londoners includes a sandwich board man, advertising a Christmas pantomime, a blind old hag, and a lamplighter (all of whom we will meet again as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Be). He refuses to buy tickets to the pantomime, refuses to help the lamplighter, and refuses to give alms to the blind old hag.

When he arrives at his home he has a vision--the face of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley. Later, in his parlour, the Ghost of Marley materializes, bound in chains that he, himself, forged. Marley conjures up all the mournful ghosts of greedy former business associates, who scare Scrooge silly and try to convince him to change his ways ("Link By  Link"). Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts “who yet may stop you ending up like me." 

The clock chimes One, and Scrooge is awakened by a visit  from the Ghost of Christmas Past (who looks remarkably like the Lamplighter).  The ghost sings of "The Lights of Long Ago" and shows Scrooge scenes  from his past: his father being taken to jail for non-payment of debts, and his separation from his mother and his beloved sister, Fan. Next we see Scrooge at  twelve saving every cent he earns, working in a boot factory. The young boy writes to his sister Fan and dreams of "A Place Called Home" but Fan will die giving birth to Fred. Next, Scrooge is reminded how joyous he used to be at "Mr. Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball.” Here Scrooge realizes that an employer can make his workers happy. While the festivities continue, Scrooge watches his younger self, still filled with light, as he propose to his beloved  Emily.

Young Scrooge and Marley go into business, growing more ruthless as they become more and more successful. They turn on their former benefactor, jolly Mr. Fezziwig, and demand he repay a debt to them. Later, Emily, breaks off her engagement with Ebenezer, returning her gold engagement ring, which she feels he will value more than her. Desperate to end these painful visions, Scrooge chases the Ghost of Christmas Past away, and is left desolate and alone.

The clock strikes Two, and Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present (Sandwich board Man.) The ghost presents Scrooge with a lavish array of Christmas treats which all come to life and dance.  Next the ghost whisks Scrooge off to Bob Cratchit's house where the family enjoys "Christmas Together." "Christmas  Together" continues with a visit to Fred's house, where everyone toasts Scrooge, despite his absence; finally, all of London celebrates love, friendship, and  family--the true joys of Christmas, "together, all over the earth." The  ghost shows Scrooge how fragile Tiny Tim is; then he reveals two more children  in a desperate state of need: they are Ignorance and Want. When asked if Tiny Tim will live, Scrooge is told that if these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die.

Scrooge begs to know what he can do to change the future, but the clock strikes Three and he is whisked to St. Paul's graveyard by the ominous Ghost of Christmas Yet To Be. (Blind Old Hag). Gravediggers are digging a grave. Scrooge doesn't know who has died.

A corpse is unceremoniously dumped from its bed while the undertakers strip the body of its clothes and bedclothes. Scrooge sees the Cratchit family grieving over the grave of Tiny Tim. Finally he sees his own name on a gravestone, and understands that he will die alone and unmourned. He vows to change his ways, "Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today." Scrooge has a miraculous vision of children singing like angels ("God Bless Us Every One"),  but his joy is interrupted by the ghost, who tries to wrap him in a shroud and wrestle him into his own grave.

It is suddenly Christmas morning and Scrooge wakes up, wrestling with his own bed sheets! Thrilled to realize he hasn’t missed Christmas, he gives a young boy money to buy a prize turkey. Dancing through  the streets of London, Scrooge sings "let it all have to do with me!" as he hands out charity, forgives Mr. Smythe his debt, and amazes the Lamplighter,  Blind Old Hag and Sandwich board Man with his generosity; then he goes out into the audience, giving out candies and treats.

Scrooge delivers the prize turkey to the Cratchits and promises to raise Bob's salary and help his struggling family. Carrying Tiny Tim on his shoulders, Scrooge goes to his nephew's house hoping to be allowed  to come to dinner. Fred and Sally sing, "Welcome home, Uncle Scrooge, welcome home to family."

It starts to snow and everyone sings a reprise of  "Christmas Together," and all build a giant snowman. Tiny Tim calls out,  "And God bless us, every one!" And the musical ends with the song,  "God Bless Us Every One"--"Star by star up above, and kindness by human kindness, light this world with your love/And God bless us every one."

Musical Numbers

  1. The Years Are Passing By - Gravedigger
  2. Jolly, Rich and Fat (A Jolly Good Time) - Charity Men, Smythe Family, Businessmen, Wives, Children
  3. Nothing to Do With Me - Scrooge, Cratchit
  4. Street Song (Nothing to Do With Me) - People of London, Scrooge, Fred, Jonathan, Sandwich Board Man, Lamplighter, Blind Hag, Jack Smythe
  5. Link By Link - Ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge, Ghosts
  6. The Lights of Long Ago (Part 1) - Lamplighter
  7. God Bless Us, Everyone - Scrooge's Mother, Fan (aged 6), Scrooge (aged 8)
  8. A Place Called Home - Scrooge (aged 12), Fan (aged 10), Scrooge
  9. Mr. Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball - Fezziwig, Mrs Fezziwig, Guests
  10. A Place Called Home (reprise) - Emily, Scrooge (aged 18), Scrooge
  11. The Lights of Long Ago (Part 2) - Scrooge (aged 18), Marley as a Young Man, Emily, People from Scrooge's Past
  12. Abundance and Charity - Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge, Christmas Presents
  13. Christmas Together - Tiny Tim, Cratchit, Mrs Cratchit, Crachit Children, Fred, Fred's Wife, Scrooge, People of London
  14. Dancing on Your Grave - Grave Diggers, Ghost of Christmas Future, Minks, Businessmen, Mrs Mopps, Undertakers, Old Joe, Mr Smythe, Cratchit
  15. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - Scrooge, Angels, People of London
  16. The Years Are Passing By (reprise) - Jonathan
  17. Nothing to Do With Me (reprise) - Scrooge
  18. Christmas Together (reprise) - People of London
  19. God Bless Us, Everyone (Finale) - Company

Scenes and Settings

The action takes place in London, 1880.


CAST (in order of their appearance):

  • Punch and Judy Man
  • Punch and Judy Woman
  • Organ Grinder
  • Grave Digger
  • Mr. Smythe
  • Jack Smythe
  • Grace Smythe
  • Scrooge
  • Crachit
  • Charity Men
  • Old Joe
  • Match Girl
  • Street Urchins and Children
  • Sandwich Board Man
  • Fred
  • Jonathan
  • Lamplighter
  • Blind Hag
  • Mrs. Mops
  • Ghost of Jacob Marley
  • Ghost of Christmas Past
  • Judge
  • Scrooge at 8
  • Fan at 6
  • Scrooge's Mother
  • Scrooge's Father
  • Mr. Kent
  • Scrooge at 12
  • Fan at 10
  • Fezziwig
  • Scrooge at 18
  • Marley, as a young man
  • Mrs. Fezziwig
  • Emily
  • Ghost of Christmas Present
  • Tiny Tim
  • Mrs. Crachit
  • The Crachit Children
  • Sally, Fred's wife:
  • Undertakers
  • Ghost of Christmas Future
  • Business Men, Ghosts, Gifts and the People of London

Character breakdown

- Ensemble - CHARITY ELVES; BANKERS; STREET VENDORS; SAILORS; GHOSTS; JAILERS; CLERKS; MONKS