Dickens imbues ‘A Christmas Carol’ with author’s performance pedigree
Gerald Roderick Charles Dickens, great, great grandson of Charles Dickens, brings to life “A Christmas Carol” in his energetic, 26-character, one-man show, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Foy Hall, Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus, Moravian College, Main and Church streets, Bethlehem.
There’s a book-signing by Dickens after each performance at nearby Moravian Book Shop, 428 Main St., Bethlehem, which annually presents the event.
Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870) gave his first public performance of “A Christmas Carol” in 1853 and his final performance in 1870, three months before his death.
Gerald Dickens began performing his great-great grandfather’s classic tale of Yuletide redemption in 1993. The beloved story and classic tale has been told and performed from theater to theater the world over, but what better way to experience it than as presented by a blood relative who bears more than a resemblance to his ancestor?
During his performance, Dickens artfully expresses emotions from sobbing to laughter and commands the audience’s attention through his strong vocal and physical presence as he portrays more than 25 characters, from Ebenezer Scrooge to Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas.
In bringing each scene of the Dickens’ 1843 novella to life, Gerald Dickens has distinguished himself as a gifted and talented storyteller and theatrical performer.
“The show is the entire story,” Dickens, 53, says in a phone interview. “It is all [Charles] Dickens’ words in an edited version of about an hour and 20 minutes long.
“It’s actually quite easy to change between the different characters through a change in voice or physical changes.
“It’s a very fast-moving story, so it is a constant change between humor or despair or horror, and it keeps people fully-engaged.
“This is not a reading or literary presentation. It is a theatrical show. Scrooge comes to the center of it all. By the time you get to the end of the sentence you become that character and naturally fall into the character. There are a lot of laughs, but tears, as well.”
In addition to the Bethlehem performances, Dickens presents “A Christmas Carol” at several venues in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, California, Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Ontario, Canada, and England.
“Having lived with this show professionally for 23 years, it is the simplicity that is so perfect. It encapsulates every aspect of your personality within each character and, therefore, the story makes you live it in however you choose to experience it. It is always new and fresh and important. For a short book, I find it amazing that it has the power to grip and pull you in.”
Dickens has worked as an actor, director and producer for many years, which led him to write and direct additional one-man shows, including “Mr. Dickens is Coming!,” “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” and “Top Hole! The Golfing Stories of PG Wodehouse.”
Says Dickens of his stage work, “It is absolutely in the blood. Dickens loved theater and wanted to be an actor long before he thought of writing. He started going on stage and performing readings from his own work.
“He shared that love for performing and I am very proud to have inherited that from him. Because he was so theatrical, his stories were written in a very theatrical manner, which suits my style of performing superbly.
“It’s a very special feeling knowing that many people come back to see the show and I hope more people will come to see it and make it their tradition as well.”
Tickets: Moravian Book Shop, 428 Main St, Bethlehem; moravianbookshop.com; 610-866-5481