Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley and Tiny Tim have been brought to life countless times since Charles Dickens published “A Christmas Carol” in the 19th century. This holiday season, these characters and the story will be performed in Shelton.
Valley Shakespeare Festival (VSF) and the Shelton Historical Society will present a reading of “A Christmas Carol” on Friday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m., in the Shelton History Center’s Wilson Barn.
“Some of the best theater I have seen has not been in an actual theater, but in hotel lobbies, abandoned churches, New York City parking lots, abandoned clubs … a brownstone on the Lower East Side,” said Tom Simonetti, a founder of the VSF.
“You remember these experiences — they remind you that theater happens everywhere,” Simonetti said.
The Wilson Barn was built about 1860, not long after “A Christmas Carol” was published. The barn is home to the permanent exhibit, “Three Centuries of Shelton — From Farming to Industry and Beyond.”
Actors from Shelton to New York City
“While Dickens is not known as a playwright, he did write a few plays, and always had a fascination with theater,” Simonetti said. Dickens wanted to be an actor and perform “A Christmas Carol,” according to Simonetti.
Actors from the area will take the stage at the Shelton performance. The cast includes Kristen Kingsley of Shelton, Alex Luft of Trumbull, Jeremy Funke of New Haven, and actors from New York City and elsewhere.
“I can’t say how excited I am to work again with these wonderful artists, who truly love to give the gift of theater to the community,” Simonetti said.
Dickens and Shakespeare shared approaches
The Dickens play was a natural choice for the Shakespeare Festival because the two authors had a lot in common, Simonetti said.
“Like Shakespeare, Dickens wrote about the social issues that faced his generation, and put them into his works,” he said.
Both authors’ writings are “very autobiographical, too — and both wrote characters that you do not easily forget after reading or seeing them,” Simonetti said.
A family show and ‘timeless tale’
“We made a low kid price to be sure that adults could bring children and introduce them to this timeless tale,” Simonetti said. “My mom introduced me to this story when I was about 5 years old.”
He then found other stories by Dickens, such as “Oliver Twist,” “Great Expectations” and more.
“I look forward to seeing kids gasp at Jacob Marley, clap along to the traditional and English carols presented, and of course find out if Ebenezer Scrooge will ever change,” Simonetti said.
Each event will begin with a reception of seasonal baked goods and beverages, followed by the reading.
Six actors will play 26 roles
Valley Shakespeare Festival will present the story in 30 to 40 minutes, using just six actors to play all 26 roles, with minimal staging and costuming.
Tickets are required, and may be purchased at vsfestival.org or by calling 203-513-9446. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children/students, and free for children age 5 and younger.
Donations of canned goods to help those in need will be accepted.
The Wilson Barn, 70 Ripton Road, is not heated, so audience members are asked to dress warmly.