One of the most recognizable and re-adapted stories is A Christmas Carol, the 1843 classic by Charles Dickens. This time of year at the library, one of our patrons asking for A Christmas Carol might be overwhelmed by the response they get. There have been hundreds of adaptations and variations over the years. Are you looking for a book? a movie? a TV show? a stage production? animated? comedy? drama? There are so many ways to enjoy this Dickens classic, let’s run through a few that you can request from the library.
Let’s start with the basics. Many different printings and adaptations have published Dickens’ original text. These include picture books and abridged versions for younger audiences. But if you really want to go back to the original source and get a sense of Dickens mind in 1843 you should check-out A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript Edition. This printing includes detailed emendations, deletions, and insertions in Dickens’s own hand.
A Christmas Carol went to the stage almost immediately after being published. In 1844 Edward Stirling staged A Christmas Carol; or, Past, Present, and Future, running 40 nights in London. That year eight different theater companies in London staged their own version of the Dickens classic.
Composer Alan Menken wrote the songs for the musical A Christmas Carol, which was performed at Madison Square Garden from 1994-2003 during the holiday season. It was later staged at the Lyceum Theater in London. You can check-out a song book with the music and lyrics from the live performance Madison Square Garden Presents A Christmas Carol. The musical was also adapted into a 2005 Made for TV movie in NBC which starred Kelsey Grammer as Scrooge. Check out the DVD today!
The very first live action movie version of A Christmas Carol was a 1901 silent, black and white film called Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost. Patrick Stewart did his best Scrooge in 1999. George C Scott did his best bah hum bug in 1984. But the “classic” 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim seems the be the most well revered and revisited live action adaptation. But everyone has their favorite!
If you grew up in the 60s you might remember a Christmas 1962 special on NBC called Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. Even if you didn’t grow up in the 60s you can still check out the DVD version from the library. Tim Curry and Whoopi Goldberg led an all-star voice cast of the 1997 production by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment – reviews were mixed. In 2009 a Disney digitally animated version of A Christmas Carol with a powerhouse performance by Jim Carrey hit the theaters. But my personal favorite in the animation category has to be Mickey’s Christmas Carol from 1983.
Over the years this Christmas classic has been performed by some pretty well known voice performers for radio and audiobook. This radio play can be found at your local library: A Christmas Carol by Shane Salk. CBS Radio Network aired their production of A Christmas Carol, starring Lionel Barrymore, starting in 1934. That’s the same Lionel Barrymore who plays Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Live. The radio production ran every year until 1953. This 1938 recording starring Barrymore and Orson Welles comes from Youtube.
Merry Christmas to all!