The Words Players’ version of “A Christmas Carol: The Spirit of Christmas Past” has become one of the non-traditional traditions of Christmas in southeastern Minnesota.
The play, which opens Dec. 5, is recognizable to anyone who knows the story of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
But the production is innovative in the way it turns the theater-going experience into a virtual immersion in the world of Victorian London, Scrooge, Marley, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.
“Our version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ is intended to feel very, very traditional,” said Daved Driscoll, artistic director of Words Players and the Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company. “What’s not traditional is the way we tell the story.”
During the telling, members of the cast circulate through the audience, including as street urchins, beggars and pickpockets. The immersion starts “from the minute you walk in the door,” Driscoll said. The theater lobby is decorated with information and exhibits about the London of Dickens’ time. There’s a Dickens market of holiday goodies, and roving musicians.
In other words, audiences don’t just go to “A Christmas Carol,” they enter it.
And why not, since the play is one of those classic holiday traditions that everyone seems to love.
“It’s one of the handful of things in the world that a huge number of us connect with on a visceral and emotional level,” Driscoll said. “There are so few things that connect community-wide, and that’s why I like this.”
Viewers can take in just the play, or combine it with a dinner at the Lord Essex Tavern on Saturday nights (Dec. 6, 13 and 20), or combine it with a wine and appetizer reception on Friday nights (Dec. 5, 12 and 19).
Tickets are $83 for the dinner and show (includes transportation between the restaurant and theater). Tickets for the wine and appetizer reception and the play are $60 for adults, $50 for students.
Tickets for matinee performances of the play are $25 for adults, $20 for students (with a family cap of $120). Tickets for evening performances are $33 for adults, $27 for students.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, and Thursday, Dec. 18; and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays.