A tale of two Scrooges: Ebeneezer takes the stand in Aspen
ASPEN – We’re all very familiar with the happy ending of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”: three ghosts appear to show the crabby, wealthy Ebeneezer Scrooge the error of his ways; his eyes are opened to the joy and generosity of the Christmas spirit.
In the final lines, the story’s narrator affirms that Scrooge’s change of heart was complete, and Dickens concludes with the memorable tag line, “May God bless us, every one.”
Not so fast. Was Scrooge’s transformation permanent? Perhaps not, suggests playwright Mark Brown in his new sequel, “The Trial of Ebeneezer Scrooge.”
Brown’s farce opens with a defense attorney giving the familiar seasonal greeting, “Merry Christmas.” Scrooge responds not with a “Bah, humbug,” but a phrase more appropriate to the play’s courtroom setting: “Objection!” he shouts. Has Scrooge had yet another change of heart?
“Everyone’s shocked. They assume he’s gone back to the dark side,” said Aspenite David Ledingham, who directs and appears in the workshop version of the play – featuring full staging and costumes – set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the old Youth Center, adjacent to the Pitkin County Jail. “But the truth is much better than that. It’s a great surprise ending, and I won’t spoil it – but I will say that Scrooge, in his way, finds something not quite kosher in the fact that everybody only has the Christmas spirit one day a year.”
The play features a 14-member cast, with Ledingham taking the role of Scrooge. The suggested donation is $10, with proceeds going to the Aspen Fringe Festival, a 2-year-old theater event presented by Pegasus Theatre, an organization co-run by Ledingham. Students are free, and the play is appropriate for middle-schoolers and older.
Fans of Dickens’ original story will find plenty to relate to. All of the main characters from “A Christmas Carol” – the accountant Bob Cratchit; Scrooge’s old partner Jacob Marley; the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future – all take the witness stand, as Scrooge prosecutes the lot of them for kidnapping, extortion, breaking and entering, and pain and suffering.
To give the production an extra touch of authenticity, Ledingham applied to use the Pitkin County Courthouse as the venue. He was denied.
“They said, ‘Bah, humbug,'” Ledingham said.
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