Curtain Call: Playwright stars in his one-man adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’

Patrick Spadaccino stars in his one-man adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” at the Ridgefield Theater Barn, through Dec. 20. Directed by Scott R. Brill, shows run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. A video link will also be available for those who prefer to watch from home.

Patrick Spadaccino stars in his one-man adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” at the Ridgefield Theater Barn, through Dec. 20. Directed by Scott R. Brill, shows run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. A video link will also be available for those who prefer to watch from home.

Anna Zuckerman-Vdovenko / Contributed photo

When I learned that the Ridgefield Theatre Barn was presenting “A Christmas Carol” as a one-man show, I had to know who was taking the challenge. I had seen Dick Terhune perform it at the Warner last year, and I was blown away by his performance. It’s hard to imagine anyone else coming close to that performance. Then I phoned Patrick Spadaccino who will take on all 25 characters in Ridgefield. Little did I know that not only was Spadaccino going to be starring in this one-man show, but he is the playwright who penned the script that Terhune used for his one man show. Now I can’t wait to see Spadaccino in this production.

So how did Spadaccino manage to adapt the Charles Dickens classic so well that the entire story is told in 90 minutes? “Once Dickens made his point, I edited out the redundancy,” he said adding that this really is a pure adaptation. “I only actually changed five words,” he said. He also added an introduction which gives the audience a sneak preview of what’s coming.

So why would this playwright/author adapt this work when it has already been adapted countless times? “I’ve always loved Christmas and ghosts,” Spadaccino said without hesitation.

Then he recounted when he first became enamored with the story. He was about 7 or 8 years old when he started performing the show for his family. “I remember coming out as Marley with my head completely wrapped around. I would perform the show every year and my family would groan each time I announced I would do my annual show,” Spadaccino said with a laugh. As for the inspiration for the adaptation, it wasn’t only his dedication to the story, but he also credits an animated production of the classic story featuring Mr. Magee who was on his way to Broadway. He has been inspired in so many ways that it became inevitable that he would adapt this lifelong passion into a play. He actually started writing it as a musical, but is content in writing it as play.

“I took the entire text and adapted it in a Word document. It’s hard to say how long it took me because I care so much about this work that I took my time,” explained the writer. For the Ridgefield production he won’t need to wrap his whole head in gauze. He said his costumes are much better than his original childhood ones. The set is very minimalist and described as a desk, a chair, a bench and just the necessary props.

What is his biggest challenge performing in his own play? “Having worked on this day after day, I need to remember the weight of what is being conveyed,” he said, stating that he does it for the message in the Dickens’ novella, which is about Christmas and redemption and hope. It is also the joy of giving, and concentrating on people not money. It’s about kindness and generosity. He also said that he needs to continually engage the audience. While he doesn’t recite the work in front of his wife Natalie, he said that she is his biggest supporter.

His performance at the Ridgefield Theater Barn runs through Dec. 20. The theater has limited cabaret seating due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Masks and reservations are required. The production is also available virtually. For more information contact the theater at: ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org.

Joanne Greco Rochman is a founder of the Connecticut Critics Circle and a current and active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She is also a long time member of the National Book Critics Circle. She welcomes comments. Contact: jgrochman@gmail.com.