The central story of Charles Dickens’ celebrated book, A Christmas Carol, is undoubtedly one of the most beloved and imitated tales in literary history. The oft-told saga of a tyrant and miser who finds redemption at the hands of three ghosts who visit him on Christmas Eve has never lost its impact. It never fails to melt even the most hardened of hearts.
This Christmas, Paramount Productions will present the third season of an original adaptation of this moving story when A Texas Christmas Carol returns to the landmark stage Dec. 20-22.
Paramount Artistic Director Barry Smoot’s adaptation moves the story of Scrooge’s fateful Christmas Eve to Texas in 1935. In fact, the entire saga is re-told by a group of Depression Era performers, who use a revival tent as the setting in which to bring Dickens’ story to life.
This imaginative re-boot spins the tale in a new and decidedly Texas direction, and the Great Depression setting adds subtle new layers of meaning to the story of one man’s re-birth on Christmas morning.
Smoot’s adaptation has each performer playing multiple roles, and this ensemble of actors, singers, and musicians use music, costumes, bold theatrics, and even silent film to bring the story to life.
Of course, the three ghosts who visit Scrooge have been altered to reflect this new vision. The Ghost of Christmas Past is a gun-slinging cowboy who steps right out of the final frame of Edwin Porter’s classic silent film The Great Train Robbery. His western “sidekick” accent is so pronounced that his lines have to translated by the cast.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is, quite literally, Shirley Temple, who taps her way out of the screen to escort Scrooge on his journey. She introduces him to “The Milk of Human Kindness,” which actually tastes “a lot like tequila.”
And, in one of the show’s most theatrical moments, the Ghost of Christmas Future rises from the dust bowl earth as a winged Angel of Death—a chilling 15-foot tall figure created by the cast onstage to the heartbeat of a revival drum.
This new adaptation also includes the use of alternative folk music—a blend of traditional sounds mixed with a modern pop sensibility—to elevate the show to a whole new level. The ensemble uses fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and harmonica to enhance the storytelling with unique covers of traditional Christmas music, along with more modern popular music.
A Texas Christmas Carol performs Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20-21, at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinee is at 2 p.m. Dec. 22. Tickets go on sale Nov. 1. For more information, visit the Paramount website at www.paramount-abilene.org.