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Palm Beach Dramaworks Announces Casting for Virtual Live Reading of A CHRISTMAS CAROL

The reading takes place on Monday evening, December 21 at 7:30pm.

A who's who in the history of Palm Beach Dramaworks is set to participate in a live reading of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol on Monday evening, December 21 at 7:30pm. In the tradition of Dickens reading his own work, this presentation will showcase PBD luminaries reading the 1843 novella, with each artist separately performing a portion of the book before handing off to the next actor.

Estelle Parsons, who appeared at PBD in the 2014 production of My Old Lady, and Terry Teachout, who made his directorial debut with his play Satchmo at the Waldorf in 2016 and wrote the commissioned Billy and Me, which premiered here in 2017, are among the 19 artists taking part in the reading. They will appear alongside Artistic Director William Hayes and Managing Director Sue Ellen Beryl, returning to their performing roots for the evening, as well as (in alphabetical order) Gary Cadwallader (PBD director of education and community engagement), Caitlin Cohn, Dennis Creaghan, Elizabeth Dimon, Rob Donohoe, Patti Gardner, J. Barry Lewis (resident director), Bruce Linser (The Dramaworkshop manager), Kathy McCafferty, Colin McPhillamy, Lester Purry, Angie Radosh, Karen Stephens, John Leonard Thompson, and Laura Turnbull. Lewis directs. Tickets are free, but reservations are required.

The presentation will also include drawings by acclaimed contemporary artist Roberto Innocenti, who illustrated A Christmas Carol in 1990.

It was Lewis' idea to do a reading of the novella, rather than one of the many play adaptations, and Hayes, a huge Dickens fan, was immediately on board. "No play captures the words quite the way Dickens did," said Hayes. "He was a master at creating vivid characters and setting the mood. As we're doing a reading, without sets and costumes, the words are everything. So, we felt we couldn't do better than to go to the source. We also liked the idea that we were following in Dickens' footsteps, in the sense that he was known for doing readings of his work."

When PBD first made the announcement about the reading, the plan was to prerecord the performance because the large cast and liberal use of illustrations promised to be a logistical challenge. But Hayes and Lewis soon changed their minds. "Being together with family and loved ones is a big part of the spirit of Christmas," said Hayes. "Obviously, we are unable to be in a theatre, to be in a shared space. The closest we can get to that shared space is watching the performance on Zoom at the same time as the actors are doing it live. It creates a sense of community, of togetherness. Ultimately, that became more important than whatever technical challenges we face."

It was Rob Donohoe, a veteran Scrooge and something of A Christmas Carol fanatic, who recommended Innocenti's illustrations to Lewis. "If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Innocenti's illustrations are priceless," said Lewis. "His drawings visually bring Dickens' words to life. Each one brilliantly captures the narrative or a particular mood. The illustrations are sepia toned with muted color, and just draw you right into Dickens' world in a way that speaks to a modern audience. We're using about 25 of them throughout the reading."

Penny Bank is the executive producer of the Home for the Holidays series. Louise and Barry Snyder are the sponsors of PBDonline.

Tickets can be reserved at www.palmbeachdramaworks.org or by calling the box office at 561.514.4042, x2.

Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.


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