Bah Humbug! and other festive season theatre
While it may be too late to program a Christmas play this festive season, Stage Whispers surveys some choices for Christmases Future, including some of the numerous variations on Scrooge and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. … but more Bah Humbug later.
Classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street, that delightful tale about the true meaning of Christmas, has been adapted for the stage, in a dramatic version (Dominie) and a Broadway musical version, Here’s Love, by Meredith Willson of Music Man fame (Hal Leonard). White Christmas, another Hollywood Christmas favorite, has also been adapted for the stage, retaining Irving Berlin’s songs. (Origin)
Fiddler On The Roof creative team Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick teamed for the romantic Broadway musical with a Christmas setting, She Loves Me, drawn from the same play as the films The Shop Around The Corner and You’ve Got Mail. A favourite with musical theatre aficionados, it features Broadway legend Barbara Cook’s signature tune Ice Cream. (Hal Leonard)
Other (non-Dickensian) musicals include the following offerings.
That Time of the Year is an original Christmas/Hanukkah musical revue with 25 all-original Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's songs! (Origin) Striking 12 is a rewired version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl, told simultaneously on two levels - in contemporary New York City and in 19th century Europe. (Origin) The Christmas Schooner tells the true story of a Michigan shipping captain who braves the deadly winter weather to bring Christmas trees to homesick German American families in turn-of-the-century Chicago. (Hal Leonard)
The greatest story ever told, re-told in contemporary style by David Wood, Rock Nativity has a score from pop singer / composer duo Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent. (Hal Leonard).
Maverick Musicals and Plays have a number of Christmas plays and musicals available for perusal on their website, including new release musical Nativity, a modern retelling of the Christmas story, Noel, tailor made for the younger children and Turn Around Dick! an over-the-top panto. (not to mention the obligatory Dickens)
Of course there are also plays for the festive season.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues features the reindeer dishing about the real Santa. The reindeer finally speak up and they do not hold back! (Dominie)
Christmas on Mars is a contemporary comedy/drama in about a couple and their two unlikely roommates, where the imminent arrival of a child invokes the wonder and promise of the Nativity. (Hal Leonard)
A church Christmas program spins out of control in Christmas Belles, a Southern farce about squabbling sisters, family secrets, a surly Santa, a vengeful sheep and a reluctant Elvis impersonator.
Want a short royalty-free Christmas piece? Christmas On Stage – An Anthology of Royalty-Free Christmas Plays for All Ages includes 27 varied one-act plays and readings selected for easy staging and for storytellers. (Dominie)
And then there’s Scrooge, Tiny Tim et al in myriad incarnations of Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol – you can take your choice of musical, dramatic or comic interpretations. Most rights holders have at least one version on their books (Hal Leonard Australia have nine).
At least three musicals take their title from Dickens’ famous miser. Scrooge – the Musical is composer-writer-lyricist Leslie Bricusse’s stage adaptation of his 1970 film musical version. (Dominie) A 90-minute musical by James Leisy, aimed at schools and youth societies wishing to stage a Christmas musical, is simply called Scrooge, while a further musicalisation by Janice Torre and Fred Spielman is more descriptively titled Scrooge, The Stingiest Man (both Hal Leonard). A play with music and two dramatic versions by various authors, and with varying cast sizes, simply use Dickens’ original title, are represented by Hal Leonard. Among several other titles they represent, Christopher Durang’s Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge, which certainly sounds like fun.
Finally, The Farndale ladies also have a go at this Christmas classic with Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of “A Christmas Carol” engineering some novel audience participation while bravely contending with an intrusive PA system and wrap their vocal cords and feet around two original songs. (Dominie)