Themes of A Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol, The Musical

There are several striking themes found in Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol. The theme of a Christmas spirit – making time for family and celebration every year — is one that is prevalent throughout the novel. There are also the issues of social welfare and poverty that were very much a part of the new Industrial Age in which Dickens’ lived.

A Christmas Carol was published on the heels of the British government’s changes to the welfare system known as the New Poor Laws, passed in 1834. Dickens’ intent on writing his novella was to “strike a sledge-hammer blow…on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.” The novelist had first-hand experience with poverty, watching when he was 12 his father imprisoned for debt. Then the young Dickens was sent to work at a factory for three years.

For the writers of A Christmas Carol, The Musical the theme of redemption is the one that holds the strongest attraction. The transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from sour miser to generous and happy Christmas celebrant is the focus for the musical adaptation.

Price Clark as “Tiny Tim” and David Benoit as “Ebenezer Scrooge” in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol, The Musical. Photography by Cindy Momchilov. © Copyright 2011 Arkansas Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved.

Mike Ockrent, book writer and original director for A Christmas Carol, The Musical, wrote a letter during the early years of the production of his show. That letter demonstrates the theme of redemption is one that resonated with the creative team.

’It’s never too late to change.’ That’s the message in our musical version of A Christmas Carol. It’s a wonderful, optimistic Christmas message that Charles Dickens’ story reminds us of every year. And the notion that the human spirit is not immutable, cast in stone, incapable of renewal, is the reason that A Christmas Carol has found such a place in our hearts, generation after generation. This magnificent underlying theme has come to symbolize the secular, yet spiritual, meaning of the Christmas festival. When Lynn Ahrens, Alan Menken and I set out to dramatize and musicalize this classic tale, this was our starting point.

This entry was posted in Dramaturgy, Productions by Werner Trieschmann. Bookmark the permalink.
Werner Trieschmann

About Werner Trieschmann

Werner Trieschmann is the Dramaturg for Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Werner has had plays produced across the United States and, most recently, in England, Italy and Romania. His work has been staged at Moving Arts in Los Angeles, Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York, The New Theatre in Boston and Red Octopus Productions in Little Rock. His comedy "You Have to Serve Somebody" (Dramatic Publishing) was developed at the Mount Sequoyah New Play Retreat in Fayetteville. He won first prize in the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans New Play Competition and was the first playwright to receive the Porter Prize, recognizing outstanding achievement by an Arkansas writer. He holds an MFA in playwriting from Boston University.

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