Staged reading of 'Christmas Carol' on holiday schedule

Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” will come to life in a staged reading with music at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, in Waterman Theatre.

Presented by the college’s music and theatre departments, the performance will feature a cast of 10 actors, under the direction of Mark Cole, with traditional Christmas carols of the Victorian era sung by the State Singers, directed by Julie Pretzat.

“Dickens, with the publication and subsequent success of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ really re-invented what we now consider the holiday traditions of December: the feasting, hospitality, an emphasis on family, caroling and compassion,” said Cole, who adapted the story for this reading.

“These traditions had all but died out by the early 19th century,” Cole explained. “Dickens was influenced by the American writer Washington Irving who, in a story written in 1820, described Christmas festivities that celebrated the season with banquets, dances and songs.”

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his redemption through the visits of three ghosts on Christmas Eve was an instant bestseller upon its publication in 1843. Dickens himself, when he turned to public readings of his works, read the story numerous times.

“We all love a tale well told, especially a ghost story at Christmas time,” said Cole, professor and chair of theatre at Oswego.

“This reading offers the audience an hour or so of thrilling storytelling,” he added. “Scrooge, the Crachitt family, Jacob Marley, the three ghosts and the riotous party hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig come to life in the scenes and descriptions of Dickens’ superb and lively prose.”

Pretzat, professor and chair of music, worked on scoring songs that fit the story. “We’ve incorporated many familiar Christmas carols such as ‘Away in a Manger,’ ‘The Coventry Carol,’ ‘I Saw Three Ships’ and ‘Ding Dong, Merrily on High’ into the performance, at times as a commentary on the story and at other times as underscoring,” Pretzat said. “There are also vocal sound effects and atmospheric sounds, almost like a live radio show.”

Professor Kitty Macey of the theatre department designed early-Victorian-era costumes for the singers.

“The elegant costumes as well as the language and songs recall the period in which Dickens lived, but the 10 actors are costumed in contemporary clothes,” Cole noted. “The scripts the actors will read from are a re-creation of the clothbound book that Dickens used in his readings. Ryan Powers, a senior theatre major, researched, designed and created the books for the production.”

Ticket prices for “A Christmas Carol” are $7 ($5 for seniors and children, $3 for SUNY Oswego students). For reservations, contact the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141 or

Those with disabilities needing assistance to attend the performance should call the box office manager at 312-3097 in advance.

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(Posted: Nov 09, 2005)