It was raining yesterday, not snowing, but all of New Jersey got Christmas news from Princeton’s McCarter Theater –their legendary production of A Christmas Carol returns in December.
The play, adapted from Charles Dicken’s 1843 book, has been the wonder of the New Jersey holiday season for over forty years. I’ve watched it for decades, better production than last, Ebenezer Scrooge better than last, 19th century London setting lovelier than last. It’s still here. Let’s sing, dance, clap and grab some eggnog.
A Christmas Carolgone for two years, was brought to a halt by the pandemic, like so many other holiday plays and events.
My best memory of seeing the play was in the early 1980s. I took my son, then seven or eight years old, there on a cold weeknight in December. I left my seat to do something and walked across the hall. There, through the big old wooden doors, I could see that it had just started to snow and the ground around the old theater had started to whiten with it. My eyes widened. I rushed to find an opener because I knew it was towards the end of the play and at the end it was artificially snowing on stage. I told him it had started snowing outside. He alerted the other ushers and they ran through the theatre, opening all the doors so the audience could see it was snowing inside and outside as well. Wow! What a moment!
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Everyone knows the story. The ghosts take grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge, the cheapest man who ever lived, on a tour through his past, present and future. The ghosts remind him of the wonderful life he could have had, but didn’t because of his workaholic life and endless greed. He meets the wife and family of employee Bob Cratchit and that adorable, but dying, child, Tiny Tim. Can Scrooge change and save himself? Can’t we all?
Oh, that’s just awesome.
The play will be basically the same as always, and I’m sure will bring the same Christmas cheer to its 2022 holiday audience as it always has.
I am happy to have the holiday piece back for several reasons. First of all, it’s good to find the old chestnut tree. Second, it’s a big room. Third, maybe his return signals a beginning to the end of COVID, which not only canceled last year’s show, but this year the omicron variant of COVID canceled many performances and sickened many people (including me).
So kudos to Ebenezer Scrooge, good old London, little Tiny Tim and the ghosts of Christmas.
And kudos to the folks at McCarter for bringing this gem back.
PHOTO: Greg Wood (center) and cast members of A Christmas Carol 2017. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
Bruce Chadwick worked for 23 years as an entertainment writer/critic for the New York Daily News. Later, he was an arts and entertainment critic for History News Network, a national online weekly. Chadwick holds a Ph.D. in History and Cultural Studies from Rutgers University. He has written 31 books on United States history and has lectured on history and culture around the world. He is a professor of history at New Jersey City University.