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A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANUKKAH, MERRY KWANZAA Now Virtual

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The show features features over 30 puppets by Milos Kasal including a quartet of Rockettes in Slovak, Moravian and Ruthenian folk costumes and holiday songs.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANUKKAH, MERRY KWANZAA Now Virtual

On December 22, in order to safely reach the widest possible audience, Theater for the New City and Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre 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.

Theaterscene.net (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."

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 set uses a century-old toy marionette theater donated by Madeleine Albright. Vit Horejs uses a Bob Cratchit character from his mother's identical set that he played with in his childhood.

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. Lighting design is by Federico Restrepo.

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 (TheaterScene.com) 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.

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

Originally December 22, 2021 to January 2, 2022, now extended on-demand thru January 9

Presented by Theater for the New City

Tickets $18 gen. adm., $12 seniors/students/kids

Box office 212-254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net

Running time 75 minutes.


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