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Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" One-Man Show Script & Score

by Tony Palermo

Here is a version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" intended to be read by a single-narrator--with optional pre-recorded musical accompaniment. This would serve well for a grandparent reading a condensed version of the "Carol" to grandchildren beside the fireplace. I offer full cast versions of the "Carol" for radio and stage, but have seen requests for a smaller, more intimate rendering of the tale. Charles Dickens was an actor before he was a writer and he often performed excerpts from his novels to theater audiences in Britain and America. I've taken Dickens' own reader's "Carol" from 1867 and trimmed it down from 3 hours to 30-minutes long. However, this version is not just a telling of the story--with lots of narration and occasional dialogue. It is more a dramatized "Carol" to be performed by a single-storyteller--much the way audiobook narrator Jim Dale brought the Harry Potter books to life. You don't need to be a gifted mimic to render the sour Scrooge or meek Bob Cratchit, but this script makes it easy to assume one voice and then switch to another since the radio-script format lends itself to clear reading off the page in a live performance.

For information regarding how to obtain the script, contact me at . I deliver the script via e-mail as a PDF file, and the optional pre-recorded music cues can either be downloaded as MP3 files, or shipped via regular mail in the form of audio CDs.

I also offer a small-cast version of the "Carol" for Family or Staged-Reading performances. See Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" as family/staged-reading version for info.


A Christmas Carol is Tony Palermo's very faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic story of  Christmas, memory, and redemption. The dialogue is verbatim Dickens, but condensed and arranged to bring forward Dickens' themes of charity and goodwill toward men. This shortened version includes the famous scenes of the Charity Seekers, Marley’s Ghost, the three Spirits, Fezziwig's Ball, Belle, the Cratchit family, the graveyard, the prize turkey and Scrooge's final surprise for Bob Cratchit. However, it omits several scenes entirely; no teenage Scrooge and his sister Fan, neither of Nephew Fred’s parties, no mention of the Children—Ignorance & Want, no Rag & Bone shop, and no mocking businessmen. In 30 minutes, the story still holds up as an emotional experience. This version also employs (optional) music but doesn’t require any sound effects. Instead, they are described by the narrator, the way Dickens’ handled them in his original story.

Here's a downloadable MP3 clip of a famous scene, with one actor doing all the voices--accompanied by music and sound effects:

MP3 - A Christmas Carol - Scrooge & Marley excerpt (2.2 MB)

Here's a downloadable excerpt of the single-narrator "Carol" script:

        SCRIPT SAMPLE - ONE MAN SHOW/SINGLE NARRATOR- Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - TRUNCATED.pdf (114 KB)

You can view/print the excerpt, which is in the PDF format, via the free Adobe Acrobat reader program, which works for PCs and Macs. http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2_allversions.html

PRE-RECORDED MUSIC TRACKS:

Additionally, I offer pre-recorded orchestral music tracks—30+ minutes worth. These 22 tracks cover scene transitions and underscore the drama. They are NOT Broadway-style musical songs. Instead, the tracks function the way 1940s movie music does—supporting the drama. In scoring ‘A Christmas Carol’, other than my own ghost and suspense music, I adapted old Victorian carols throughout. I used less well-known carols, to avoid cliché or sentimentality, without sacrificing the authentic characteristics that period music could lend to the story. The carols reinforce emotional and structural connections in the drama.

For example; Belle's Theme ("The Coventry Carol") is played by a music box--a gift from Scrooge--that winds down as their relationship crumbles.  

The instrumentation is strictly Victorian: brass choir, pipe and reed organs, hand bells, church bells, chimes, cymbals, timpani, fiddle, concertina, music-box, “glass harmonica,” choirs and strings. This authentic musical underscoring adds greatly to the production.

The 31 minutes of music tracks are available on CD or as downloadable MP3 files.

1) Holiday Playhouse theme (under narration)
2) Boy Carolers singing—then cut-off
3) Foggy Night  
4) Marley’s Woe  
5) The Phantoms  
6) Spirit #1 Arrives
7) Christmas Past  
8) Fezziwig’s Ball
9) Belle’s Music Box
10) Return to Bed
11) Spirit #2 arrives
12) Christmas Present/Cratchit Home #1
13) Christmas Montage
14) Spirit #3 Arrives  
15) Cratchit Home #2
16) Graveyard Sequence
17) Church Bell Cacophony   
18) Christmas Day in London  
19) God Bless Us
 

        Christmas Carol music tracks (AND sound effects) are also available separately (without purchasing script performance royalties). Contact:

VALUABLE NOTES ON THEME AND PORTRAYALS:

Tony's Extensive Notes On How to Produce 'A Christmas Carol'
Detailed information about how I've approached this adaptation. While the notes are intended for full-cast productions, I suggest solo narrators read over them to understand the themes running through the story.


--Order Information--

PRICES FOR 30-minute One-Man-Show 'CHRISTMAS CAROL':
Script Performance Royalty:  (one-time fee) --as e-mailed PDF file
Pre-Recorded Music Tracks:  (one-time fee) --as MP3 downloads

Once you download the MP3s, you can burn them to audio CDs or trigger them from a computer or MP3 player. 

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HOW TO PAY FOR SCRIPT AND MUSIC TRACKS:

I accept credit card payments via the free and secure www.PayPal.com service.

1) Go to the www.PayPal.com website, click on the “Send Money” button, and register for free. (They accept debit cards too.)

2) Use my e-mail address of: to send the money to my PayPal account.

3) PayPal has an info box on their payment page that allows you to send a note to me, use it to specify WHAT you are ordering (I offer 25 different shows) and, if you want the Script and music tracks or just the script. If you want postal delivery, let me know. For all orders, include your postal mail address—for my tax reporting purposes.
NOTE: If you do not specify WHAT you are ordering, I cannot send you ANYTHING.  

4) NOTE: You must pay in U.S. dollars—which is easy to do on Paypal.
For how-to info, see: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/sell/mc/mc_send-outside

DELIVERY:
Once your payment has been received, I will e-mail you the PDF of the script and links to special download pages for the MP3 files of the tracks. You can make as many copies as needed for cast and crew.

If you have any questions, contact:


TONY PALERMO is an audio theatre producer, performer, and educator living in Los Angeles, California.
He performs professionally, conducts workshops, and produces programs for hire.
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Last modified: 12/18/13