Quote of the Day: I promise to keep Christmas in my heart, year round. I promise to remember the lessons the Spirits have taught me. spoken by Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, heard last night on the Wurtele Thrust Stage at The Guthrie Theater.
A production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a tradition at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. This was the first year that I’ve gone to the show. I brought my four sons with me, and I’m so glad that I did. I can understand why families make this part of their holiday tradition as well. The night was truly magical.
We entered the Wurtele Thrust Stage and our eyes were immediately drawn to the set. It was like looking at a painting of Dickensian London with the street lamps, the cobbled street, the buildings with their windows lit up, and what looked like snow on the edges of buildings and the stage. Charlie leaned over and asked, “I wonder how they made that snow,” and “What do you think the buildings are made out of?” The boys tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Look up. I see props up there in the cat walk.”
“I wonder when they’ll come down and what else is up there,” I said.
Then, the music started and the house lights went down. Tiny Tim was on the stage, leaning on his crutch. The snow falling on him glowed from the spotlight, and he sang, “Lul-lay thou little tiny child. By, by lul-ly lul-lay.” Oh, my heart was already pulled into the show for “This poor youngling for whom we sing. By by Lul-ly, lul-lay.” The townspeople entered from the aisles and behind the set. The stage filled with light and sound and I was transported to another time and place.
Like a colorfully wrapped Christmas present, many surprises await you during this performance. The Wurtele Stage has many hiding places, above and below, behind and within. We oohed and ahhed at the dramatic entrances of the ghosts. They are a bit scary, though, and I would not recommend this show for preschoolers. My 11-year-old sons said they think you should be in at least first grade.
My oldest son, Bobby, pointed out the political statements that were made. I already knew that the themes of A Christmas Carol are just as true today as they were in Dickens’ times. Power and greed rule the day. The rich hoard their wealth and blame the poor for their own predicament. Old Scrooge isn’t the only one to say, “If they can’t work, they don’t need to eat.” Bobby noted the large prop and scene of the London Stock Exchange – a giant abacus – and how Scrooges’ business acquaintance (remember, he had no friends) said they were going to ban the word “rich” at his office and replace it, instead, with “job creators.”
Notice, too, that we’re in the scenes of the Ghost of Christmas Past the longest. We see Scrooge as a lonely and abused boy. We meet his funny Uncle Fezziwig (this scene is so colorful, like one of Dr. Seuss’ stories with bright colors and crazy hair which reminded me of the Who’s down in Whoville), and we meet his fiance’. He never marries her, though, as she sees that his true love is money.
I felt drawn to the character of Bob Cratchet even more than usual during this performance. I’ve always had a soft spot for him, as most people do. He works hard, endures a cold office – both physically and emotionally, and he loves his family, and more than anything he wants to protect his young son, Tiny Tim, from his aweful fate. Kris L. Nelson plays the part with such tenderness that I found myself getting teary during the scene of Tiny Tim’s funeral, and again, at the end when they all wish us a Merry Christmas.
One more surprise, before I go, Angela Timberman, who played Scrooge’s housekeeper Merriweather, was fantastic. Such great comic relief in this play. Amidst themes of greed, despair, death, and loneliness, we have Merriweather’s quips and actions, dreary, yet comical, words to songs like “We wish you a horrible Christmas” or something like that.
Alright, enough raving for now. But, check back this week. I hope to post a few photos from The Guthrie’s collection of the show, and tell you more about my Christmas gift with my boys. I do hope that a visit to the Guthrie and Dickens’ London and all his colorful characters becomes our holiday tradition, too.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Describe a time when you were surprised by a performance, or art experience.