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A Christmas Carol Retold: 6 Places to Watch Unique Tellings of the Classic

christmas carol

It is perhaps the best Christmas story ever written, the best tale of regret and redemption ever told, and the best account of crotchety old man’s transformation ever recorded. It is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and theaters in and around town are playing variations of the classic story.

Each theater production or film showing provides something unique in their presentation. The Sacramento Theatre Company‘s production, for instance, is perhaps Sacramento’s largest production with a classic telling of the timeless tale, but even they keep the story fresh by showing an adaption written by local Sacramento artists.

“This adaptation was written by Sacramento people for Sacramento people,” said Executive Producing Director Michael Laun, who added that the adaptation—which includes some songs—still maintains a traditional and charming telling of the story. “Each performance is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and those who are here to witness it in the audience receive that gift instantly.”

Other productions take the classic qualities of the original and transform them into something new, ensuring that no matter which venue you visit you’ll walk away with a memorable experience. From a futuristic San Francisco adventure to a lovable Muppets telling to a revealing exposé, they all have their own take on “A Christmas Carol” but still maintain the heart of the story. It is that heart, after all, that keeps us coming back year after year—Scrooge’s timeless story of redemption speaks as loudly now as it did when it was first written.

“The story of A Christmas Carol is almost 175 years old…And yet, this classic story somehow continues to haunt us,” said Laun. “We witness a man who has a spiritual experience—who’s disinterest in the ‘poor and the destitute’ miraculously changes into an attitude of ‘good will toward men.’ Scrooge’s haunting ultimately leads to redemption.”

While Scrooge undergoes a transformation from miser to cheer-master, it reminds us that perhaps we all have a bit of Scrooge inside us, and maybe, just maybe, the Christmas spirit is the best remedy.

Along with Scrooge’s nephew we should all say, “And therefore, Uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that [Christmas] has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

Not feeling the Christmas spirit yet? Here are six places that will help muster up that feeling this season.

Sacramento Theatre Company

Through Dec. 24, Wednesday-Sunday, times vary1419 H St, Sacramento. There’s something special about watching “A Christmas Carol” live. As shared by Laun, in doing so the audience not only observes this production, but they also become part of it: “The story of A Christmas Carol comes alive when it is done live on stage. Theater is actually an exchange of energy between the actors and the audience and that energy cannot be duplicated in film or television—it only happens in live theater where the audience helps create the energy of the story being told.” More info at sactheatre.org.

Nevada Theatre

Through Dec. 24, Thursday-Sunday, times vary. 401 Broad St, Nevada City. Sue LeGate-Halford directs Nevada Theatre’s presentation of “Scrooge,” where we learn about Scrooge’s shortcomings through a captivating musical escapade. The musical is sure to be filled with all the wonder of Christmas past, present, and future, while giving you an excuse to make it to Nevada City to enjoy its charmingly decorated city streets and stores. More info at nevadatheatre.com.

Local Theaters showing “The Man Who Invented Christmas”

Now playing at all major movie theaters. Get ready for a behind-the-scenes look at how “A Christmas Carol” came to be. Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer star in “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” a revealing exposé that chronicles Dickens’ genius and ingenuity as he creates the timeless classic we all know and love. More info at fandango.com.

Benvenuti Performing Arts Center

Through Dec. 9, Thursday-Saturday, times vary. 4600 Blackrock Dr, Sacramento. Perhaps the production that departs most from the classic telling, Benvenuti’s presentation stars a character named Ben who is visited by three spirits in San Francisco in the year 2020. This musical adventure’s modern take reinvents the familiar story, tapping into our curiosity of how the tale could be told in a 21st century setting. More info at www.benarts.org.

Crest Theatre

Dec 17, Sunday, 3:00pm. 1013 K St, Sacramento. See the Muppets on the big screen! Michael Caine stars as the cranky Mr. Scrooge in Crest Theatre’s showing of the 1992 film “The Muppet Christmas Carol”. This lively and touching interpretation of the classic is sure to be a big hit for the whole family. More info at crestsacramento.com.

The Acting Company

Through Dec. 17, Friday-Sunday, times vary. 815 B St, Yuba City. Take the Christmas spirit to a whole new level by watching “A 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol”, a clever telling that seamlessly combines the world of radio and stage. Set in 1943, the production centers on a cast attempting to broadcast their contemporary rendition of A Christmas Carol—but their attempt is not without its glitches. A perfect blend of sound and scenery, this unique performance includes all the enthusiasm and energy of the old-fashioned radio world. More info at actingcompany.org.

Photo by Charr Crail. Courtesy of Sacramento Theatre Company.

About the author

Rebecca Harris

Rebecca is a 4th year UC Davis student who is studying Genetics with a minor in Professional Writing. She joined the team in September and enjoys working on events and activities that are going on in the city. In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, and traveling throughout California.

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