By Olivia Haveron
The Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol reigns supreme as one of the most famous holiday productions of all time. And while many choose every year to watch A Christmas Carol in the traditional manner live on stage, this year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all stage productions have been shut down for an unknown and unprecedented amount of time. However, all is not lost; for the first time ever, you can watch A Christmas Carol every way that you could possibly imagine.
From watching one of the countless versions on your laptop, to a radio adaption, a puppet adaption— and even a digital production where Scrooge is Ebenezer’s great-great-great-great granddaughter—the possibilities are endless to get your Scrooge on in this holiday season.
COVID-19 has affected theaters all over the country, removing one of the biggest avenues of revenue each year. Paul Tetreault of Ford’s Theatre in Washington states how the play accounts for $2.5 million in ticket sales and 17% of the company’s annual revenue. However, similar to many theaters around the country, Ford’s has decided to find alternatives because no ‘Christmas Carol’ is worse than a different ‘Christmas Carol.’ And let’s be honest, everything is a little bit different this year. Ford’s Theatre offers a free hour-long Christmas Day broadcast at noon on WAMU, which mirrors Chicago’s Goodman Theatre on-demand audio version that lasts until December 31st.
In a way, Ford’s production will be a blast from the (Ghost of Christmas) past, bringing us back to a time where we weren’t constantly moving around, possibly giving us time to just stop for a moment.
If you are looking for a live-streamed production, London’s Old Vic Theatre has just the right show for you. Their live stream of A Christmas Carol will continue to be performed every night for online audiences until December 24th. Old Vic’s website states “A Christmas Carol will be performed and streamed live as part of our Old Vic: In Camera series. We hope that you will join with us to support the series and feel excited to be part of a live theatre community once again. We need your help in making sure that The Old Vic and our productions are still here to enjoy once our much-missed normal lives resume”.
Of course, everyone misses the opportunity to go to live theater, however, theaters such as Old Vic still want to provide their audience with joy and Christmas spirit. Old Vic’s artistic director Matthew Warchus stated, “The theater definitely has a role to play, and this year, that’s true more than ever. The thing that theater fundamentally does is bring people together, and this production is a great exemplar of theater as a unifying force.” Plus, proceeds go directly to the theatre, ensuring that the theater is able to stay open in these trying times. Prices at Old Vic start at £30.00.
One of the most interesting adaptations of the classic production is the Jefferson Mays one-man production of the show. This version of A Christmas Carol has Mays portraying more than 50 characters, first performed live at Los Angeles’s Geffen Playhouse. Mays’ version is streaming for $30 through January 3rd. He filmed his one-man Christmas Carol last month in the United Palace theater. The ritual of the productions is what makes his version possible, stating “That experience is reflected in the story itself—it’s about memory, and memories of the past, images of the present and phantasmagorical visions of the future.”
The large varieties of A Christmas Carol performances represent a degree to which we can come together and be unified. This show each year brings people all over the world together to enjoy a timeless classic. And now, more than ever, we need to come together or else this pandemic will never end. Even though the Christmas season might be a little bit different this year, these endless A Christmas Carol adaptations can bring us back to remember what Christmas is truly about, similarly to what the story itself.