Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Christmas Carol-ing, by Carla Stockton

My Jewish grandchildren will be visiting me over the holidays. We’ll be looking for things to do together, and there might be a few Chanuka activities sponsored by the likes of Chabad Lubavitch, but most of the fun stuff for kids in New York at the holiday season have to do with Christmas, and we’ll be partaking of those things while they’re in the City.

Christmas, as we have learned, is no longer simply a religious holiday. It’s a national holiday, celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. Attending tree lightings and Nutcracker performances and the Radio City Christmas Extravaganza have become as traditional as hearing Handel’s Messiah. Or attending a production of A Christmas Carol.

Every season when I was a child, I marched right alongside all my schoolmates into the auditorium on the last day of school before the holiday break, and I watched, rapt with pleasure, as Alistair Sim, as Ebeneezer Scrooge, found his way through his Christmas lesson about charity and the spirit of Christmas. The message was universal, and it had no time constraints: be kind to one another, and find love and happiness or be a scrooge, and die a miserable outcast.

When I reached preteen-hood, I began producing small cuttings of the Dickens classic for my family during our holiday celebrations. My brothers and sisters played various roles, but I always played Scrooge. It felt like our story as much as anyone else’s, especially as we were not wealthy, were a large family and were somewhat out of sync with our very gentile little town in upstate New York.

That’s the thing about A Christmas Carol. It’s all inclusive. Even the most resolutely avowed atheist has to recognize a pertinent message therein, Tiny Tim’s exhortation “God Bless us Everyone,” notwithstanding. It’s as seasonally traditional as gingerbread houses and sugar plum fairies and fun for all children of all ages.

The number of times the tale has been remade and reworked attests to its enormous popularity. It seems that almost every year or so there is a new film, and there is no end to new adaptations for the stage, including the one that will be presented at the West Side Theater as half of A Dickens/Dylan Christmas, directed by Peter Galman, December 8-18.

It’s an uplifting, cathartic experience to see and hear A Christmas Carol. Come one come all.

F.y.i. Here’s a partial list of the film and video productions:

Description: Versions

A Christmas Carol
(1938) starring Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, June Lockhart, Leo G. Carroll, and Terry Kilburn. 69 min.

A Christmas Carol
(1951) starring Alastair Sim, Meryvn Johns, Michael Hordern and Glyn Dearman 86 min.

Scrooge (1970) starring Albert Finney, Sir Alec Guinness, Edith Evans and Kenneth More. 115 min.

A Christmas Carol (1984) starring George C. Scott, David Warner, Susannah York, Frank Finlay, Edward Woodward and Nigel Davenport. 100 min.

Scrooged (1988) starring Bill Murray, John Forsythe, Karen Allen, Carol Kane, and Bobcat Goldthwait. 111 min.

A Christmas Carol (1999) starring Patrick Stewart, Nick Adams, Desmond Barrit, Charlotte Brittain, Tom Brown, Kenny Doughty, Laura Fraser, Richard E. Grant, Joel Grey, Roger Hammond, Celia Imrie, Ian McNeice, John Mills, and Saskia Reeves. 93 min.

Cartoon Versions

An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998) 73 min.
Christmas Carol: The Movie. (2001) 77 min.
A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994) 90 min.
The Jetsons Christmas Carol (1985) 30 min.
Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) 25 min.
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962) 52 min.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) 89 min.

Jim Carrey’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

1 comment:

Peter Galman said...

The clip gave me goose bumps. Every time. Amazing. Perhaps you're grandchildren's experience of the holidays can include hearing the ASC production of "Christmas with Dickens & Dylan". The one day they'll write a blog, or however we communicate then, and share their memories of this amazing actor who transported them to another world all by himself without using any machines, 'cuz that's what people did back then.