As we get older, we all too often get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life that we lose sight of the wonderment of the holiday season. The Public Theatre rekindles the magic of Christmas with a spirited tale of reclamation, told through the eyes of a child.

Like many kids – and adults – today, the schoolboy (Kristian Keef) in Christopher Schario’s one-act adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is addicted to technology. Forced by his parents to power off his game, Kristian begins to read Dickens’ classic Christmas tale, stirring his imagination with its colorful characters and ghostly visitors.

As the story unfolds, Kristian is literally drawn into the “awesome” story, slipping into the roles of Dick Wilkins, young Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Turkey Boy.

The rendition is an infectious blend of narration and live action that playfully crosses the fourth wall, with the narrators flashing knowing winks at the audience as they don their various character roles. Like omnipotent gods, they shape the story and transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael O’Brien) from miser to Christmas steward.

Laughter rippled through the audience Friday night as the narrators stopped an oblivious Scrooge from walking off the edge of the stage, lifting him up in the air, mid-stride, and placing him back on the stage in a safer direction.

This year’s production sparkles with holiday cheer. Public Theatre newcomers Nicholas Perron (Fred, Christmas Present, Peter Cratchit) and Kelsey Foltz (Fan, Mrs. Fezziwig, Belle, Martha, Laundress) perform with a contagious enthusiasm that breathes life into the classic tale.


O’Brien returns as the curmudgeonly Scrooge, delighting young and old with his miraculous transformation and hammed-up comic antics to tickle the funny bone.

Public Theatre favorites Russell Berrigan (Bob Cratchit, Marley’s Ghost, Fezziwig, Old Joe) and Sheila Stasack (Christmas Past, Mrs. Cratchit and Charwoman) are also returning, offering animated performances that capture the holiday spirit. This year marks Berrigan’s ninth year in the show.

Adam Blais (Christmas Future) and Jennifer Armstrong round out the cast, with Blais providing offstage sound effects and Armstrong lending musical accompaniment on fiddle.

Following a 15-minute intermission, Armstrong returns to the stage for a half-hour performance of storytelling and music, leading the audience in holiday sing-a-longs while performing on the fiddle, banjo and dulcimer.

The Public Theatre’s rendition of “A Christmas Carol” drives home Dickens’ message by capturing its relevancy in today’s society. It is a heartwarming tradition that’s guaranteed to instill the Christmas spirit into even the most miserly of hearts.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

Twitter: ahboyle

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