Sunday, January 11, 2009


Everyone knows what a Christmas Carol is....

...or do they?

And why did Charles Dickens entitle his story "A Christmas Carol?" After all, it's not a song.

"A Southern Christmas Carol" features a cast of ten actors. Nine of these actors first appear on stage as a group of Depression-era Southern folk singing a medley of traditional and Southern carols to the audience. As the show progresses these nine carolers narrate the story and portray all the characters in the story--with the exception of Scrooge who does not join in the singing until the very end of the show.

Jimmy Bishop & Karen Beyer explain what a Christmas carol is
in the original 2003 production of "A Southern Christmas Carol."
To set up the story, the carolers explain to the audience exactly what a Christmas carol is and why Charles Dickens chose "A Christmas Carol" as the title for his classic story. Below is an abridged version of what the characters say:

“Now there seems to be a lot of confusion over just what a Christmas carol is.

"For instance, some folks think that 'Frosty the Snowman' is a carol. I hate to disappoint you folks, but it is not. No, Sir, and neither is 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.'

"Now those are perfectly good songs. I like hearing them at Christmas as much as the next fella, but they are not carols. A carol is more like a hymn; it has to do with the religious or spiritual meaning of Christmas.

"A carol can be about Mary and the Baby Jesus, or it can be about the angels appearing to the shepherds. But a carol can also be about spiritual rebirth— like 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.'

"There’s no talk of Jesus or Mary in that song, but the fellow in it comes to believe in God and the eventual triumph of righteous--all because he hears Church bells ringing on Christmas Day.

"Now the story we’re gonna tell you here is about someone who—because of Christmas—sees the error of his ways, repents and is spiritually reborn! And so, this story could be thought of as a sort of Christmas Carol—‘A Christmas Carol in Prose’ as Mr. Charles Dickens originally called it. But since we’re changing the setting from London, England in the 1840’s to rural Georgia, during the Great Depression, we’re gonna call it: ‘A Southern Christmas Carol!’”

Morgan Carson, Rubin Singleton and Andrew Frace open the 2004 production as carolers.

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