A Christmas Carol: Please Sir, I Want Some More

A Christmas Carol

People just can’t get enough of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. There are so many stage adaptations produced each year that American Theatre Magazine eliminates the title from its list of most-produced plays since it would always be in first place. On IMDB, there are hundreds of screen adaptations, ranging from movies to parody TV episodes. Every year in central Oklahoma, there is a minimum of two stage adaptations of this holiday classic available for theatergoers, and usually a few bonus incarnations. This week, I went to see Lyric’s A Christmas Carol, an annual production here for the last seven years. To honor my first encounter with The Ebenezer Saga this year, I’ve written my own brief adaptation of that particular evening.

Rodney Brazil’s

A Christmas Carol

Presented by Cabernet Sauvignon

SETTING: Oklahoma City, OK

TIME: Now!

NARRATOR: ‘Twas two days ‘till December, and all through the house,
Many creatures were stirring, some there with a spouse.
The t-shirts were hung by the gift stand with care,
in hopes that theatre people soon would be there.

The patrons all nestled, quite snug in their seats,
After the house manager beeped a few beeps.
A man in a kerchief, and gals in their caps,
Elbowed their husbands,“now don’t take a nap!”

When out in the aisle there arose such a clatter,
I looked up from my program to see what was the matter.
A family of four filed by in a row,
Finding no need at all for a friendly “Hello”.

The music seems to swell. The audience knows that the performance is about to start.

COLLEGE GIRL IN AUDIENCE: What’s this show about?

COLLEGE BOY IN AUDIENCE: (name dropping the theatre’s artistic director) I don’t know, but [Artistic Director] told me it’s about three ghosts: past, present, and future.

COLLEGE GIRL IN AUDIENCE: Oh, okay.

COLLEGE BOY IN AUDIENCE: Yeah, we’re friends like that.

Announcements are made, and the stage fills with actors singing traditional Christmas carols. The weather outside in the real world is unseasonably warm. I wish I’d worn a thinner sweater. We finally see Bob Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge in the ice cold office, arguing about coal, freezing their pants off. They shiver on stage, while my friend Cristela, also in the audience that night, wears a tank top. I should have worn a tank top. Onstage, Fred enters.

FRED: A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!

SCROOGE: Bah! Humbug!

The audience laughs.

FRED: Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don’t mean that, I am sure?

SCROOGE: I do. Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.

FRED: Come, then, what right have you to be dismal? You’re rich enough.

The audience laughs. This actor playing Fred is pretty good! Just the right balance of contemporary and stylized, upbeat but not a cartoon.

~ a blink in time ~

MARLEY’S GHOST: Why do you doubt your senses?

SCROOGE: Because a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!

The audience laughs. Scrooge is a hoot! Reminds me of that episode of The Cosby Show where Cliff eats a sausage sandwich right before bed an the Muppets show up in his dreams.

SCROOGE: Humbug, I tell you! Humbug!

Ebenezer is really self-aware when it comes to his grumpiness. That’s funny! Is this going to be a comedy? Now that I think about it, Marley’s wig looks a lot like the Heat Miser from that kid’s movie A Year Without Santa Claus. I love mixed references!

 ~ a blink in time ~

A ghost flies out of a clock in ballet slippers. Nutcracker reference noted.

~ a blink in time ~

A Christmas Carol Adaptation

INTERMISSION

I’m first in line at the bar. Large wine, please! This sled in the lobby is cool. I wonder why it’s here. Oh, well. Hey! They said before the show that Dee Hoty is going to be in OKC playing Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! next summer. I should talk about that with someone. 

ME: I loved Dee Hoty on the cast recording of The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, but I’ve never seen her on stage.

ANONYMOUS FRIEND: You didn’t see A Little Night Music here?

ME: Oh, yeah. I saw that. I guess I have seen her.

ANONYMOUS FRIEND: She was also here in the 9 to 5 tour that came through.

ME: I saw that too. How could I forget that?

ANONYMOUS FRIEND: How’s the wine?

The house manager beeps the beeps again, signaling that intermission is almost over. Everyone returns to their seats. Blackout. The children next to me keep talking. They better not talk during the show. 

~ a blink in time ~

The Ghost of Christmas Present enters riding in the cool sled from the lobby. That explains it! What a great costume. Looks warm. I’m so in the Christmas spirit, it almost seems like it’s cold outside. The fake snow is likely a contributor. What’s this light over here to my right? Is it a special effect? No. It’s one of these kids in my row playing Candy Crush. That is so distracting. Why doesn’t her mom tell her to put her phone away? Pay attention to something literary for once. Oh, good, she put it away.

~ a blink in time ~

The Ghost of Christmas Presents opens his robe. Ummm… Puppets! I fucking love puppets. These are really creepy too. Wow, the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come is a ginormous puppet. I’m all about this. More light to my right. This little brat has her phone out again during the best part! This is my house, I have to defend it. 

ME: Can you go play Candy Crush in the lobby, please? Some people are here to watch the show.

LITTLE BRAT: Fine! Sorry!

She’s not really sorry, but at least she put her GD phone away.

~ a blink in time ~

Ebenezer Scrooge learns his lesson, and finally understands the meaning of Christmas. He’s being so nice! And merry. You know, we’re always expecting people to change, always looking for people to transform, and then we don’t remember. Sure, you were terrible to everyone for many years, Scrooge. But then you changed. And here it is 174 years later and nobody remembers. Nobody gives you credit. I give you credit, Scrooge! From now on, I’m going to remember how you changed, and in the last scene showed up at Fred’s place for Christmas, and we get another scene with this really spot-on actor, and what a great guy you were for buying that large albeit clearly lightweight turkey for the Cratchits. Merry Christmas, Scrooge! I forgive you. But not you, Cliff Huxtable. I haven’t forgiven you.

~ a blink in time ~

ME: Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?

THE END

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