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A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANUKKAH, MERRY KWANZAA Extends Virtually Through January 9

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANUKKAH, MERRY KWANZAA Extends Virtually Through January 9

On December 22, in order to safely reach the widest possible audience, Theater for the New City (TNC) and Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre (CAMT) converted their production of "A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa" from live performances to virtual (online) only. With favorable reviews and enthusiastic audience uptake, the production has been extended an additional week, now playing through January 9 instead of January 2.

Streaming tickets are $10. The show is an adaptation of Dickens' classic with Old World accents and New World inclusiveness. Adapted, directed and reinvented by Vit Horejs, it features over 30 puppets by Milos Kasal including a quartet of Rockettes in Slovak, Moravian and Ruthenian folk costumes and holiday songs in Czech, English, Hebrew, Slovak, Spanish and Swahili.

It's a wonderfully cheery show for sad times and it's ideal for young audiences. But with children over five only recently offered vaccinations and the jabs not approved for kids under five, it was necessary to re-think the presentation to do what's best for its audience and cast. The move to streaming on demand means the audience for the show is no longer limited by geography or time zone. (Victor Gluck) deemed the show "an entertaining and novel take on the well-known tale [whose] unique departures from the original story make this a surprising and unusual evening of fun for the whole family during this holiday season, one that can now be seen from the comfort of one’s own home."

Tickets can be purchased at the Box office 212-254-1109, or online at

The toy-puppet theater extravaganza is a new take on Charles Dickens' classic with a few twists and digressions. Into the familiar story is woven a surprising and delightful blend of English, Jewish, African, American and Czech winter rituals and customs, all performed by over three dozen marionettes ranging in size from four to twenty-four inches as well as found objects and toys. Mr. Horejs operates the whole cast of puppets, backed up by a live chorus: an "a capella monumentale" choir of Katarina Vizina (a transplant from Slovakia) and Valois Mickens (West African/Celtic/Native American origin). The piece is still set in Old London, but with Czech accents. Imagine that the familiar tale was told to you not by an English serial novelist, but by your Czech grandmother.

There are ghost puppets by Vit Horejs and unknown folk carvers and a Camel marionette that has played an intruder in several CAMT shows. Set and costume design are by company member Michelle Beshaw, a two-time Innovative Theatre Awards winner.

This production first appeared in 2001 at the Jan Hus Playhouse as the lead show of a "Magic of Czech Puppetry" festival. Its popularity led to revivals in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2014. Laurel Graeber (New York Times) called the show a "delightful holiday hodgepodge that still hews closely to Dickens's tale and also has contemporary humor." Revisiting the show in 2005, Graeber declared, " Mr. Horejs's 75-minute unorthodox mix is always fun," adding, "This is indeed Dickens's story, though Mr. Horejs's approach is hardly Victorian. Scrooge asks the ghosts whether he will get frequent-flyer miles, and when Fezziwig, Scrooge's old mentor, appears, he is singing 'The Dreidel Song.' (He explains that his family name was originally Feinstein.) In Christmas yet to come, Scrooge's tenants celebrate being free of him with Hebrew songs and menorah-lighting. At one point, a huge camel marionette arrives." When the production was presented by La MaMa in 2014, Kelly Aliano (NY Theatre Wire) wrote, "'Christmas Carol' is exactly what an audience would want from a holiday show. It tells a familiar tale with an added twist, it reminds us about the spirit of the season, and it puts a smile on the face of even the scroogiest of spectators. There is no mention of Tiny Tim's most famous line, but the overall tone of the show makes everyone lucky enough to have seen it feel truly blessed indeed." Joel Benjamin ( called it "a refreshing theatrical oasis in the holiday desert of over-ripe TV films, large Broadway musicals and the Radio City Christmas Show."

The production made its TNC debut in 2019. It was offered virtually last year, with a series of "pretend" out-of-town performances at venues historic and exotic that were created with virtual backgrounds.

Vit Horejs, an emigre from Prague, founded Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre (CAMT) in 1990, utilizing two centuries-old Czech puppets which he found in the Jan Hus Church on East 74th Street. His trademark is using puppets of many sizes and styles, from six-inch toy marionettes to twelve-foot rod puppets which double as scenery. CAMT is dedicated to preserving and presenting traditional and not-so-traditional puppetry, combining live performers with puppets. Horejs is well-known for innovative re-interpretations of classics. Vít Horejs received the Czechoslovak Society for Arts and Sciences (SVU) 2018 Award in recognition of his lifetime achievement in fostering the art form of Czech and Slovak Puppetry. In March 2019, Horejs received the NY Acker Award.

Theater for the New City has presented CAMT in eight productions. "The Very Sad Story of Ethel & Julius, Lovers and Spyes" explored the Rosenberg trial with a manipulated set and objects and two toy marionettes that met their end in electric chairs. Anita Gates wrote in the New York Times, "Vit Horejs has written and directed a first-rate, thoroughly original production and made it look effortless. The cast gives charged, cohesive performances, and the staging is expert." "Revolution!?" was a collaboration with three performers from Bohemia and Moravia, examining revolutions throughout the history of mankind as a backdrop for the extraordinary peaceful 1989 Velvet Revolution in former Czechoslovakia. "Mr. M" (2011) was the first American stage adaptation of "Mr. Theodore Mundstock" by Ladislav Fuks, a postwar Czech writer of psychological fiction. The production, which continued at the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, starred the Grand Dame of Yiddish music scene Adrienne Cooper (1946-2011) in her last major public appearance. In 2013, puppets and live performers enacted an enigmatic tale of early World War II in "King Executioner," written and directed by Vit Horejs, loosely based on "When you are a King, You will be an Executioner" (1968) by the Polish magical realist novelist Tadeusz Nowak (1930-1991). In 2015, the company performed "The Magic Garden, or, The Princess Who Grew Antlers," an ensemble creation that was cheerfully assembled from Czech fairy tales. In 2017, the company introduced "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom" and "The Winter Tales," two plays based on only slightly fractured Czech fairy tales. Last season, the troupe's updated "Johannes Dokchtor Faust" (premiere 1990) played to sold-out houses at TNC.

Vit Horejs writes, "The troupe is excited to return to Theater for the New City, a venue which embraces new work and enables performances in innovative styles, like this adaptation, to reach receptive audiences at affordable prices."

Other notable NYC productions include "Golem" (La MaMa, Henson International Puppetry Festival), "Kacha and the Devil," "The White Doe - Or The Piteous Trybulations of the Sufferyng Countess Jenovefa," "Don Juan, or Wages of Debauchery," "Twelve Iron Sandals" and "The Historye of Queen Ester, King Ahasverus and the Haughty Haman." CAMT has performed "Hamlet" at the Vineyard Theater, Turkey and Korea, outdoors in all five boroughs, and at the Prague Summer Shakespeare Festival in the Lord Chamberlain's Palace Courtyard at Prague Castle. Its last incarnation was with four-foot marionettes on DUMBO's unforgettable landmark, Jane's Carousel. "The Bass Saxophone," a WWII fantasy with music based on a story by award winning Czech-Canadian writer Josef Skvorecky, played 11 weeks at the Grand Army Plaza Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch in Brooklyn in 2005 and 2006.

CAMT has also appeared at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, the Winter Garden of the Smithsonian Institution, The World Trade Center (between the Twin Towers), the Antonin Dvorak Festival in Spillville, Iowa, the Heart of the Beast in Minneapolis, the Lowell Folk Arts Festival in Massachusetts and in international festivals in Poland, Pakistan, Hong Kong and the Czech Republic


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