Photo Flash: Czech Marionettes in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANNUKAH, MERRY KWANZAA at La MaMa

For the delight of audiences aged 5 to 105, Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre will perform "A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa" from December 5 to 14, 2014 in The Club at La MaMa, 74A East Fourth Street. The show is an adaptation of Dickens' classic with Old World accents and New World inclusiveness. Adapted and directed by Vit Horejs, it features over 30 puppets by Milos Kasal and holiday songs in Czech, English, Hebrew & Swahili. Scroll down for a sneak peek at the show!

This toy-puppet theatre 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, customs and holiday songs, 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: Czech, English, Hebrew & Swahili songs are performed by an "a capella monumentale" choir of Judith Barnes and Hayden DeWitt. 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.

The 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 and 2005. 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-flier 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." The production will be updated to 2014 sensibilities and restaged for this La MaMa debut.

Set and costume design are by company member Michelle Beshaw, a winner of a 2009 Innovative Theatre Award in Costume Design for Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre's "The Very Sad Story of Ethel & Julius, Lovers and Spyes, and about Their Untymelie End while Sitting in a Small Room at the Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y."

The show runs December 5-14, 2014 at La Mama E.T.C. (The Club), 74A East Fourth Street. Schedule: Fridays at 10:00 PM, Saturdays at 2:00 PM &10:00 PM, Sundays at 6:00 PM. Tickets: $18 General Admission, $13 students and seniors. Ten $10 tickets will be available to every performance on a first-come, first-served basis. Box office (646) 430-5374 or online at www.lamama.org. Running time: 60 minutes.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Slaff
high res photos

Photo Flash: Czech Marionettes in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANNUKAH, MERRY KWANZAA at La MaMa
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater in 'A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa'Â Vit Horejs manipulates puppets of Scrooge and his clerk, Bob Cratchit.

Photo Flash: Czech Marionettes in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANNUKAH, MERRY KWANZAA at La MaMa
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater in 'A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa.' Scrooge is visited by elders of the town for a holiday donation.

Photo Flash: Czech Marionettes in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANNUKAH, MERRY KWANZAA at La MaMa
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater in 'A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa.'Â Judith Barnes and Harden DeWitt provide a capella accompaniment.

Photo Flash: Czech Marionettes in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, OY! HANNUKAH, MERRY KWANZAA at La MaMa
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre in 'A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa.'Â Scrooge and Ghost Puppet. Photo by Orlando Marra.



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