EBENEZER Copyrighted by The Guild of International Songwriters & Composers

 

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A Christmas Carol is my favourite story of all time.   I wanted to compose really strong melodies as, forgive my criticism, I don't think there are memorable tunes from other musical versions that the public can readily hum.    So that was my challenge!   And I wanted to present a Scrooge who is fed up and angry - even with himself!   Thus the narrative is driven by the notion of his lost heart slowly returning to him.  

The set would have a heartshaped element to it that, as the story unfolds, becomes more prominent and bright.   I always thought of Jimmy Nail as my Scrooge!   His tall thinness being perfect as Scrooge 'dances' in a rather jerky sharp way - watch any Lotte Reineger animation to understand what I mean.   And as he becomes more human then so he moves more smoothly.  

Its for contemporary dance and I would encourage artistes to improvise freely on each performance.   This is another SCAMP studio production and they captured the mood perfectly.   My favourite piece? - has to be Who Loves A Child?  Very moving whilst reminding us not all children in the world know love.

A musical extravaganza of strong melody and intelligent lyric in two acts that recounts Dickens’s wonderful story of Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.   But we meet an angry despairing Scrooge who has had enough of life . And himself.   Will we find out who stole his heart ?      We will be confronted with the death of Tiny Tim, do not look away!, the tragedy for his mother and family and so much more before the remarkable, heartening transformation of Scrooge himself.
It is like no other Christmas Carol you have experienced.   You have been warned!
Parts of the following text should be published in the production’s programme as it includes expectations of audience behaviour!

Ebenezer - The Stageplay

"The greedy man fullness in purse

Will die alone coffined in curse"
  

Act One 

Scene One:  The Street 

As our audience arrive in the theatre there are already characters on stage.  Dressed for winter they are jolly people dancing in a Dickensian street (naturally!) where the shops are well lit displaying their wares.    Making a lot of noise they merrily enjoy themselves laughing and shouting as they socialise encouraging a good spirit and without an apparent care in the world!   And of course, it is nearly Christmas!.. more  

Who is this Man?     

An introduction by Bob Cratchit directed to the audience and sung with undisguised enthusiasm – the audience should adopt and exhibit a disciplined respectful attention throughout 

Bob Cratchit is a poor drab looking man on his way home from another day of miserable toil and with little to show for it – yet he has happiness in his heart and even a cheeky demeanour about him.  Bob  moves centrestage to face the audience and after introducing himself begins to sing of the great miser!.. more  

A very warm welcome dear friends and all 

I’m Bob Cratchit, ordinary and small 

Ordinary and small?  that’s not so bad 

For my heart is honest, happy and glad!..more

When he finishes there is much murmuring and whispering in an agreement with Bob’s introduction.      But then everyone shakes hands, cuddles and finally bid enthusiastic farewells to the audience...more

Who stole my heart? 

Sung by Mr Ebenezer Scrooge in a slow lethargic manner where he seems to suggest there may a thief in front of him – however the audience should not feel guilty or threatened… 

Dressed in a tight fitting dark suit he stands a figure of despair and bitterness.  He is alone.  He is growing old.  He knows it.  Perhaps even he has had enough of Ebenezer Scrooge?   He sings of his anguish but is there a suggestion he is aware that he is missing something – has his heart been stolen?  Throughout he looks at the audience with piercing eyes occasionally pointing accusing hands at selected audience members...more  

So this is it? 

Labour in life for a modicum wealth 

Is there not more? 

Where can I find that financial good health? 

When all I hear 

Are wasteful cries of “Come lets help the poor”  ... more

He finishes his song of despair and now ignoring the audience slowly wanders into the darkness, his questions unanswered.   He remains hunched as if trying to hold on to what little of his heart he has left.    There is silence.  As he approaches the street lamp it suddenly shines very brightly as if it yearns to become that guiding star! – but then it flickers and dies and we see him no more.

Scene Two – Scrooge’s Bedroom  

But soon Ebenezer who is now wearing a long grey nightgown reappears still walking slowly and despondently through a creaking door into his sparse cold poorly lit bedroom.   Moonlight gradually appears fighting its way through a dirty, cracked window barely covered by rotting curtains.  It is quiet with only an old clock laboriously ticking away.   It is not Christmas Eve in this household!.. more   

Alone, alone and lonely again 

This aspect of Hell, this most cruellest pain 

A curse, a curse and there’s more to dread 

Pray inform me true who would want me dead ... more
 

Finishing talking he drops his head into his hands.   His hurt and confusement are very apparent.   But then we hear the distant sound of iron chains being nosily dragged over a stony surface.   They are heavy moving chains and, as the sound nears, Ebenezer begins to show alarm.   He shakes his head as if denying that which he hears and begins to back towards his bed.   He is now very frightened.  He falls back to grab at a bed post and then he points his finger and screams silently as, before him and walking through the very door itself, there appears a ghostly figure.  A figure he knows only too well.   Marley!   Jacob Marley!    But Jacob is dead!   Very definitely cold and dead!   Yet… 

Jacob Dances

Jacob dances methodically labouring every step as he moves around the stage and frowning as if deep in concentration –but ignoring Scrooge and the audience – the latter should not be hurt by this. 

Jacob, despite being dead, pulling heavy chains and being covered in dirty bandages seems to know he has something to do.   He has a message.  It is a burden of a message to give and he moves slowly as if under its immense weight – but it has to be given tonight!  Ebenezer remains petrified but strangely entranced, as Jacob begins to dance his warning.   Jacob is weary and more miserable than even Ebenezer.   His dance is one of languorous moroseness.   Strangely Jacob does not acknowledge Ebenezer or the audience but looks sometimes above himself or down to the stage.    Nothing is said until the music ends and finally Jacob confronts Ebenezer in a crackling harsh voice: 

Beware your soul 

So empty and lost 

Go find your heart 

Consider not cost 

Ebenezer! ... more

Ebenezer jolts violently to these final words but Jacob, unconcerned, turns toward the door (and his fate), and walks slowly towards it.   He pauses to turn and face Ebenezer.   He raises his arm and points accusingly at Ebenezer who puts his hand to his mouth and does not move.   Jacob then walks out of the door and after a few moments silence we hear him scream in agony as he returns to his own self made hell and this provokes Scrooge himself to scream in a tormented duet sounding more animal than human.  And it is from his heart – it has begun the journey to its new life but in the returning darkness as the lights slowly fade. 

The Spirit of the Morning   

A ghostly apparition appears to surprise the audience who may respond appropriately ie. with gasps of amazement and other audible expressions of wonderment. 

The music then forewarns something is about to happen.   Something mysterious.   As the audience gaze only into darkness perhaps pondering the fate of this man, from above their heads a glowing light slowly comes to life.   It is soft shimmering and electrifying. But it is more than just light and soon we can see the form of… a fairy?''' more  

I am the Spirit – the first of three 

With a journey planned – you’ll come with me! 

Ebenezer Scrooge – who stole your heart? 

Evidence will show – YOU played your part 

What has been has been – and be no more 

Yet still we’ll walk through this timeless door  more .....

 

Suddenly the spirit rushes to Ebenezer and seems to move into his body.  Ebenezer exclaims in confusement “Oh, my wretched heart!” – but then the familiar darkness returns. 

Scene Three: Fezziwigs Party 

Soon light reappears, as the spirit - and Ebenezer - find themselves in a room (a ballroom perhaps?) that, as more light reaches out, can be seen to be large and decorated for Christmas.  A huge fire burns quickly in its desire to send out merry warmth but Ebenezer ignores it and wanders round looking at everything else... more   

With all my friends to raise such good cheer 

Good cheer all year accounts for this girth 

Lose it I’ll not! For what is life worth? 

Without belief in celebration,

Resultant from consideration 

The greedy man fullness in purse 

Will die alone and coffined in curse more .....

 

Everyone present shouts “Merry Christmas” and Fezziwig, grabbing hold of his voluptuous wife by her waist, orders “Now then … let the music begin”.  

Fezziwig Dances!

Mr Fezziwig Master Of Ceremonies leads the dance of jubilation and joy.   The audience may freely tap their feet and clap hands but reject any personal inclination to get up and dance. 

Ebenezer's old boss and his friends from years now gone, enjoy the end of a successful year.   There is much celebration and gaiety!  Friendship and laughter fill the room as everyone dances led by a hugely enthusiastic Fezziwig and his equally well-girthed wife.   There is no room for darkness and despair here!.. more   

To love being in love I remember fondly well 

Yet here am I alone 

Since the love of my life curtailed Heaven into Hell 

And a good heart to stone. 

Could I ever forgive since that cruellest rejection 

Unburdened of remorse more .....

"Where is His Heart?" 

Belle sings to the audience that should feel uncomfortable in its inability to commiserate with feelings of resentment towards our “subject for discourse”. 

Under a solitary light Belle laments for her lost love.  Ebenezer dances slowly but in obvious frustration as he tries to show her he is there!  He is beside her, where he belongs!   He will love her!  But she cannot see him.  He turns to the faint glow of the spirit as if pleading for help but clearly he now understands he is experiencing something now gone and which he can’t return to.    His despair is overwhelming and he falls to his knees with his hands clasped behind his head.   He sways gently as deep regret overwhelms him, but then we are protected from the spectacle of his tears as the lights fade... although we hear him weep from the darkness for some time... but then there is the relief of silence.  

INTERMISSION 

Seasonal Refreshments now available in the foyer 

Act Two: 

Scene Four – Scrooge’s Bedroom 

Before the curtain rises we hear again the weeping of Mr Ebenezer Scrooge.   It is dark but soon moonlight reappears warily from behind a cloud.   It shines down onto Ebenezer's bed.    He is sitting on it crying with hands firmly gripped behind his head but which is now resting on his knees... more   

The Spirit of The Day 

The second spirit huge in size makes his appearance.  Although known to be the friendliest spirit the audience should remain respectful as over familiar responses may be too provocative. 

The second visitor soon appears in one corner beneath a soft light.   He walks towards the fire, and turns his back to it, warming himself.   He is a big being.  He has the demeanour of a wise jovial man, but tonight, heavy in sadness, he has the burden of involvement in delivering a possible comeuppance... more 

I am the Spirit – second of three 

Come closer my man – consider me 

Consider my years – I age so fast 

Lets look at today – lest it be past 

Ebenezer Scrooge – triumphant No! more ..... 

The spirit looks to the audience and laughs raucously before Ebenezer is dragged under his large green robe.   The spirit then turns his back to the audience and walks into the darkness as once again the whole stage falls into blackness.  The laughter fades. 

Scene Five – The Cratchits Home  

The Cratchits  - music on request

One happy family celebrates its love despite poverty and hardship – the audience should silently count its blessings. 

But soon the soft light shines down to show us the Cratchits, Father, Mother and Children - all gathered around a small fire quietly and peacefully staring into the dancing flames.   Then as the celebratory music begins their mood changes and they quickly rise from their chairs to dance as a family, sharing their obvious love for each other... more  

“Who Loves A Child?” 

 Tiny Tim sings that which no child should – ever.   The audience should remain quiet and attentive in its humility.   Discrete weeping only please.  

Tiny Tim sings a gentle lament to the audience inquiring about their compassion.  As he feels the real emotion of the song, Ebenezer weeps uncontrollably and slowly, voluntarily, moves to Tiny Tim’s side.   He falls to his knees as he tries to answer him.  He will love him!  He is the other heart he sings for!  But he cannot be seen or heard.   Ebenezer holds his chest as if in pain - something is happening!.. more  

Scene Six – Scrooge’s Bedroom 

As the light returns we are presented with Ebenezer in prayer kneeling with his hands held together at the foot of his bed.   The music begins and he moans “Oh, my wretched heart!   What have I done?   Oh, the pain of it all! ” 

The Spirit of the Night 

The most frightening visitor of all arrives.   The audience should most definitely restrain from audible expressions of fear so that the spirit is not unsettled and antagonised.   It is known not to take prisoners. 

As the music again forewarns us of a visitor, Ebenezer raises his head then leans it to one side as he sees a tall dark hooded figure glide slowly towards him from the darkness.   Surprisingly Ebenezer shows no fear as the spirit slowly moves around him but when it stops centrestage (as the music ends) he rushes over throwing himself at the feet of this menacing presence to beg for forgiveness, “Forgive me.   Forgive me.   Show me no more.   No more.   Please!”   The spirit does not move until a long bony hand stretches from beneath his cloak and slowly points back into the darkness.   This is where they will go!   There is to be no negotiation!   The next journey is unavoidable!   The spirit speaks in a deep emotionless voice: 

I am the spirit – the last of three 

Prepare for the worst – your destiny 

I’ll show you horrors – born of this earth 

A journey to fate – we’ll see your worth 

Grave is your future – I’ll see you cry 

A nightmare awaits - maybe you’ll die  more .....

 Mercilessly he drags Ebenezer into his now billowing cape like a cruel master with a resistant dog. 

Scene Seven – Tiny Tim’s bedroom 

A soft glowing light soon appears shining down on Mrs. Cratchit who is sitting by a bed on which lies a motionless Tiny Tim.   It is centrestage and challengingly close to the audience – he is dying and his is a death we all must see.   For are we not all responsible for the other Tiny Tim’s in the world?

“Sleep Baby Sleep”

Tiny Tim dies – we all must watch.   The audience, as it weeps, should endeavour not to disturb Mrs Cratchit. 

Mrs Cratchit sings the sad lullaby no mother should ever consider.  A visibly very frightened Ebenezer soon appears and reluctantly is pushed by the spirit to the side of the bed.   He drops slowly to his knees and hides his head in his hands.  He does not move or look up.  The music ends and Mrs Cratchit leans over to kiss her son then pulls the sheets over him.  The lights begin to fade and there is a soft glow illuminating Tiny Tim’s head.   But he is dead.   Mrs. Cratchit falls to her knees reflecting the same pose as Ebenezer.  They cry silently.  The spirit walks in front of them and, when he raises his cloaked arms, the full darkness begins to return.   We see only the soft glow rise from Tiny Tim’s head to disappear into the darkness above. 

Scene Eight – The Graveyard 

From the left of stage, Ebenezer now walks slowly and obediently, following the spirit into a  unkempt poorly lit graveyard.  He hesitates and looks to the audience as if to plea – for forgiveness? Mercy? But then ...

A Spirited Death

The Comeuppance of Mr Ebenezer Scrooge in the most final of (un)resting places.   The audience is permitted to shake in its bones recognising we are all susceptible to comeuppance and there but for the grace of God ...   

The music commences and, from behind ageing gravestones, the other two spirits and Jacob Marley appear.   They all dance accusingly and mockingly around Ebenezer - a figure of a broken man.  They are merciless in their teasing and provocation pointing regularly to Tiny Tim’s grave.  Each in turn takes time to berate him to the segment that is their melody.  As the music ends, and thunder and lightning explode, the spirits and Jacob move to one side as if expecting the arrival of something.   Slowly a darkened gravestone from the right of stage moves forward.. more 

Scene Nine - The Street 

He lifts his head and looks around trying to make sense of his surroundings – but he cannot know where he is.   He stands up. Looking tired and dejected he addresses the audience: 

We have seen the wilderness of a heartless fool 

A pitiful soul lost where the farthing did rule 

Is there not more? Who stole my heart? We heard him ask 

So audacious was he before taken to task 

God’s lesson of love respected by truancy 

Financial greed being his understood fluancy 

And yet in his darkness there was proposed a way 

To rescue that heart in an enlightened display  more .....

 

After a few moments a strong explosive white light bursts down upon Ebenezer who falls back in surprise.   He does not move.   Now as the lighting on stage changes to that of bright sunshine he can see he is in the street where we first met him.   Then the bells chime their welcome. 

The Bells of Today! 

The rebirth of Mr Ebenezer Scrooge!!  The audience should welcome personal feelings of relief and joy as happier spirits fill the auditorium. 

The joyous bells of the most special of special days begin to ring!   Ebenezer’s nightgown is pulled from him by a mysterious force! And we see him to be fully clothed (and very smart!) He puts his head in his hands and is clearly disorientated.  He stares at his surroundings as if for the first time.   His eyes are wide and his jaw has fallen open...more ! 

“I Feel Wonder, Wonderful!”  

Scrooge is reunited with his heart.   The audience may tentatively consider all is well in the world.  

Ebenezer Scrooge celebrates the beginning of his good life and his singing fills the empty streets.  Soon it attracts all the characters we have met - including Jacob Marley and The Three Spirits!   They move towards him hesitantly then as he greets them shaking each hand enthusiastically they join him in dance to celebrate the saving of a soul.   When Fezziwig arrives Ebenezer briefly stops and wipes away a tear but then dances around the stage with him joyously.   And then as the song ends Belle (who looks older and who (conveniently) has never married!) comes on stage.   Ebenezer falls to his knees and she moves quickly over to him and holds his head in her hands and he stands up and hugs her.  He looks into her eyes and only turns around when he feels someone tug at his coat.  It is Tiny Tim who then is pulled into a group hug with Belle who is joined by all of the Cratchits and this then encourages everyone onstage to share a cuddle with someone.  Symbolically with his open arms Ebenezer offers Tiny Tim his new found heart and it is gratefully received.   Tiny Tim’s prayer, finally, is answered. 

“God Bless Us, Everyone!”  

The audience may cuddle and avail themselves of acceptable displays of public affection.  Most importantly they should celebrate that Tiny Tim did NOT die!! 

The whole ensemble sing Tiny Tim’s request knowing the Good Lord smiles down at them.   They all know how to keep Christmas well!   As the orchestra plays the instrumental segment, some of the characters leave the stage to shake hands with members of the audience some of who are persuaded to come on-stage to sing the final verse and chorus.   We watch Ebenezer Scrooge express his happiness with everyone and finally he walks centrestage and with the support of the cast shouts “God Bless Us Everyone”

 

The story is ended but some of the cast help the audience members off the stage and help escort other people back to the foyer wishing them a Very Merry Christmas.   (And Merry Christmas to you Dear Reader!)