Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No Humbug Here

“What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer? If I would work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

Sound familiar?

It should. Even if you’ve never read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, I bet you’ve heard Ebeneezer Scrooge’s quotes or seen at least one of the countless stage or movie versions. Can you name your favorite? I know folks who claim it just ain’t Christmas until they’ve watched Alastair Sim’s 1951portrayal of Scrooge. Others prefer Albert Finney’s from 1970. Bugs Bunny got into the act by casting Yosemite Sam in the famous role, followed by Mickey Mouse with Scrooge McDuck (who else?) in 1983, and The Muppets with Michael Caine in 1992. Henry Winkler’s version came out in 1979 and a female version, called Ebbie, with Susan Lucci, in 1995. Sesame Street’s version features Oscar the Grouch as Scrooge. Even Barbie has her own version, although I admit it is not on my “must see” list.

I discovered my current favorite, the 2004 musical with Kelsey Grammar, last year when I borrowed it on DVD from our local library.

The above list represents only a drop in the bucket, but you may find yourself with a new favorite version after you attend The Prairie Players production directed by Christopher Kitchen. November 14 and 15 feature the play only (in advance or at the door). November 16 and 17 will be dinner theatre (advance tickets only).

It features Terry Tully as Scrooge, Kevin Hamm as Bob Cratchitt, and an additional 31local men, women, and children rounding out the cast. One of the largest cast lists in Prairie Players history, this production includes live music, dancing, and some interesting steam-punk touches to the set and props. Since I’ll be an usher for this production (which apparently doesn’t require practise), I sat in on a rehearsal as spectator. The costumes alone are worth the price of admission!

Here’s a bit of trivia that was new to me. When Scrooge mocks his clerk, Cratchitt, he says,
“There’s another fellow. My clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I’ll retire to Bedlam.” 

Bedlam was the famous London hospital for the insane. Scrooge, unable to reconcile the concept of a joyful heart belonging to someone in Cratchitt’s financially insecure position, finds the idea ludicrous. Hence, they may as well admit him to Bedlam. Now that you know, the line will make more sense!

Like any great story, A Christmas Carol never grows old because of its memorable characters, its breadth of human emotion, and most of all, its redemptive message. Every time I see it, I’m moved by something I never caught before. This time, it was Jacob Marley’s ghost desperately expounding the importance of compassion over money. Scrooge doesn’t get it, since Marley proved himself an excellent business man. To which Marley replies, “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

A glorious way of saying, “Love Thy Neighbour.” 

Let the power and poetry of this beloved story kick off your Christmas season by getting your tickets from the William Glesby Centre. 

You may find yourself a couple of hours richer after all.
The cast of The Prairie Players' production of A Christmas Carol

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