Every year, Trinity Theater in Providence stages a production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. It has become such a Rhode Island tradition over the past 30 years that it plays to packed houses twice a day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and tickets are hard to come by. How does Trinity get people to come back time and time again to see the same show?
Quite simply, they vary parts of the play so that each production has a few surprises. One year, Scrooge was played by a black woman. The ghost of Jacob Marley has flown in over the audience on a trapeze and risen from a trap door in the stage. The Spirit Of Christmas Future has been both a Big Nazo puppet and a young child. Both portrayals were spectacular.
One endearing aspect of A Christmas Carol at Trinity is the group of young children who are part of the cast each year. They add a lightness and poignancy to a presentation that is otherwise quite somber. Who can forget that when Scrooge is asked for a donation to help the poor, he responds by bellowing, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” Bah, humbug, indeed.
After being visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve, a chastened and newly enlightened Scrooge ends the play with these final words:
Dickens wrote those words in 1843, but they are just as relevant today. Amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating the tree and preparing for Christmas dinner, let us all reserve a place in our hearts to remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Dickens would ask nothing more of us. And nothing less.