'A Christmas Carol' is set

by Robin Walluck


Ebenezer Scrooge, James Marley and Tiny Tim have been brought to life countless times since Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol in the 19th century. This December, these characters and the story will be performed in Shelton.

Valley Shakespeare Festival and the Shelton Historical Society is set to present a reading Friday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m. in the Shelton History Center’s Wilson Barn.

“Some of the best theater I have seen has not been in an actual theater, but in hotel lobbies, abandoned churches, New York City parking lots, abandoned clubs ... a brownstone on the Lower East Side,” said Tom Simonetti, a founder of the VSF. “You remember these experience, they remind you that theater happens everywhere.”

The Wilson Barn was built about 1860, not long after A Christmas Carol was published. The barn has a permanent exhibit, “Three Centuries of Shelton — From Farming to Industry and Beyond.”

“While Dickens is not known as a playwright, he did write a few plays, and always had a fascination with theater,” said Simonetti. Dickens wanted to be an actor, Simonetti said, and act a bit, even performing A Christmas Carol.

Actors from the area will take the stage in December. Kristen Kingsley of Shelton, and Alex Luft of Trumbull, will take the stage, along with Jeremy Funke of New Haven, actors from New York City and more.

“I can’t say how excited I am to work again with these wonderful artists, who truly love to give the gift of theater to the community,” Simonetti said.

He said the Dickens play was a natural choice for the Shakespeare Festival because the two authors had a lot in common.

“Like Shakespeare, Dickens wrote about the social issues that faced his generation, and put them into his works,” Simonetti said.

Both authors writings are “very autobiographical, too — and both wrote characters that you do not easily forget after reading or seeing them.”

A family show

“We made a low kid price to be sure that adults could bring children and introduce them to this timeless tale,” said Simonetti. “My mom introduced me to this story when I was about 5 years old.”

He then found other stories by Dickens: Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and more.

“I look forward to seeing kids gasp at Jacob Marley, clap along to the traditional and English carols presented, and of course find out if Ebenezer Scrooge will every change,” said Simonetti.

Each event will begin with a reception of seasonal baked goods and beverages, followed by the reading.

Valley Shakespeare Festival will present the story in 30 to 40 minutes, using just six actors playing all 26 roles, with minimal staging and costuming.

Tickets are required, and may be purchased at vsfestival.org or by calling 203-513-9446. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children/students, and children 5 and younger are free.

Donations of canned goods to help those in need accepted.

The Wilson Barn is not heated, so audience members are asked to dress warmly.