Bah Humbug!

A seasonal entertainment based on Charles Dickens' book "A Christmas Carol"

To order scripts ISBN 978-1-873855-71-3Cast ListScenesExtractMusical numbers


Introduction

This play was designed to be performed as an alternative to the traditional annual Pantomime.

We used a full backdrop for the opening London street scene, and moveable screens with appropriate lighting allowing us to make quick changes for other scenes.

The text is largely straight from Dickens. This has the advantage of being authentic, but actors may need to put some work into making a 'pantomime' audience appreciate it. As with a pantomime, we often ignored the 'fourth wall' and spoke many of the lines directly to the audience.

We used traditional carol tunes throughout, except for the first and last songs where we decided to break out into something more modern and (especially with the final song) to send the audience home with an earworm. Sorry! Make you own decision on that one.

Good luck with your show. Put in local variations as you wish, and have fun – otherwise, why do it?

Running time approx 2 hours including interval

Although there are 36 named parts, most of these (except for Scrooge) can be doubled and for some, genders can be swapped – treat it as you would a pantomime!

The setting is London in the 1840s


Cast List . . .

Charles Dickens
Scrooge
Tom Tanner (owes Scrooge money)
Caroline Tanner (his wife)
Trader 1
Trader 2
Bob Cratchit
Mrs Cratchit
Tiny Tim
Martha Cratchit
Peter Cratchit
Young Cratchit girls (2)
Fred Boodle (Scrooge's nephew)
Mrs Boodle
Collector 1
Collector 2
Marley
Ghost of Xmas Past/Beggar 1
Ebenezer as schoolboy (non-speaking)
Fan (Scrooge's sister)
Mr Fezziwig
Mrs Fezziwig
Dick Wilkins (non-speaking)
Ebenezer as a young man
Belle
Ghost of Xmas Present/Beggar 2
Men (4) discussing Scrooge's death
Ghost of Xmas Yet to Come (non-speaking)/Beggar 3
Joe, rag & bone man
Women 1 with booty
Woman 2/Housekeeper
Boy, who gets turkey

Chorus of Traders/Carol singers/Urchins/Fezziwig employees/Boodle guests


List of Scenes . . .

Act I

Prologue – Charles Dickens introduces his story
Scene 1 – A London Street, the day before Christmas
Scene 2 – Scrooge's Counting House
Scene 3 – Scrooge's Bedroom – Marley's Ghost arrives
Scene 4 – Scrooge's Bedroom – Christmas Past
Scene 5 – Scrooge's Bedroom – Christmas Present

**** INTERVAL ****

Act II

Interlogue – Charles Dickens continues his story
Scene 1 – Nephew's House
Scene 2 – Scrooge's Bedroom – Christmas Yet to Come
Scene 3 – Scrooge's Bedroom – the end of it
Scene 4 – Scrooge's Counting House


Extract

Act II Scene 3 – Scrooge's bedroom – the end of it

As Scrooge gets out of bed

Scrooge The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees! (He checks his bed) The bedclothes are still here. I am here – the shadows of things that would have been may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!

He starts to dance around the room – the Housekeeper enters

Housekeeper Lord, Mr Scrooge, what's got into you?
Scrooge I don't know what to do! I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy, I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!
Housekeeper Hallo, indeed! Shall I go for a doctor?
Scrooge There's the door by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered! There's where the Ghost of Christmas Present appeared! There's the window he took me through! It's all right, it's all true, it all happened. Ha ha ha! (He dances with the Housekeeper)
Housekeeper Mr Scrooge! I don't know what to say!
Scrooge I don't know what day of the month it is! I don't know how long I've been among the Spirits. I don't know anything. I'm quite a baby. Never mind. I don't care. I'd rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop!

Suddenly, church bells start ringing. Scrooge runs to the window and puts his head out.

Scrooge (Calling out of the window) You boy. Yes, you. What's today
Boy What?
Scrooge What's today, my fine fellow?
Boy Today? Why, it's CHRISTMAS DAY.
Scrooge (To himself) It's Christmas Day! I haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. (To the boy) Hallo, my fine fellow!
Boy Hallo?
Scrooge Do you know the Poulterer's, in the next street but one, at the corner?
Boy I should hope I do.
Scrooge (To himself) An intelligent boy! A remarkable boy! (To the boy) Do you know whether they've sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there? Not the little prize Turkey; the big one.
Boy What, the one as big as me?
Scrooge (To himself) What a delightful boy! It's a pleasure to talk to him. (To the boy) Yes, that very one!
Boy It's hanging there now.
Scrooge Then go and buy it.
Boy What?! Are you barmy?
Scrooge No, no, I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell 'em to bring it here, so I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I'll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I'll give you half-a-crown!
Boy Yes sir! (He goes)
Scrooge (To himself) I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's. He shan't know who sent it. It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. Why, it's impossible to carry that to Camden Town. They must have a cab.

Song 10 Tune: 'Hark, the herald angels sing'

   Find that butcher's, take a look,
   Take it from the butcher's hook.
   What a turkey! What a bird!
   The-size of it is quite absurd.

   Bet that turkey gave a squawk
   When it got too big to walk,
   Now the poor old bird is dead
   He can feed young Tim instead!

      Let the bells at heaven's-gate ring,
      Let the population sing!
      Let the happy tale be told,
      Ebenezer's not so cold!

   Now, remember in Act One,
   Those collectors came along
   Asking for sweet charity?
   Scrooge said: "No, it's not for me."

   That was then and now is now,
   Ebenezer makes a vow
   To-right his wrong and see them take
   A-large bequest, for goodness' sake.

      Let them now approach and I'll
      Bet this time it's worth their while!
      Let the happy tale be told,
      Ebenezer's not so cold!

He sees the two Collectors who had come to ask for charity

Scrooge Gentlemen, you must come in!

They come in

Scrooge How do you do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of you. A merry Christmas to you.
Collector 1 Mr Scrooge?
Scrooge Yes, that is my name, and I fear it may not be a pleasant one to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. And will you have the goodness to accept… (Scrooge whispers in his ear)
Collector 1 Lord bless me! My dear Mr Scrooge, are you serious?
Scrooge If you please. Not a farthing less. A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you. Will you do me that favour?
Collector 2 My dear sir, I don't know what to say to such munifi—
Scrooge Don't say anything, please. Come and see me. Will you come and see me?
Collector 2 We will!
Scrooge Thank'ee. I am much obliged to you. I thank you fifty times. Bless you!

The Collectors leave, looking bewildered

Song 11 Tune: 'Ash Grove'

   Remember Fred Boodle? He's not such a noodle,
   And each year at Christmas he asked Uncle Scrooge
   To join them for dinner, but Scrooge just got thinner
   And told him: "Bah Humbug, and good afternoon."

   But now he's converted, and all unalerted
   His nephew finds Scrooge on his doorstep today…

We see Scrooge arrive at the house of his nephew Fred

Scrooge Fred!
Fred Why bless my soul! Who's that?
Scrooge It is I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in?
Fred Come to dinner? At last. After all these years. That's wonderful! Make yourself at home. (To his wife as he lets Scrooge in) My dear, Mr Scrooge is here.

Scrooge disappears though the door into Fred's house

Song 11 continued

   And just like they promised, although they're astonished,
   The Boodles gave Uncle his best Christmas Day!


Musical Numbers used in the original production

Act I

1  Chorus at beginning of play, in a street the day before Xmas: 'Let it Snow'
2  Carol singers: 'In Dulci Jubilo'
3* Scrooge moves from Counting House to Bedroom – Tune: 'Away in a manger'
4* In bedroom between Marley's ghost and Xmas Past – Tune: 'Past three o'clock'
5  Chorus at Fezziwigs' party: 'Sir Roger de Coverley' (dance)
6* In bedroom between Xmas Past and Xmas Present – Tune: 'Abide with me'
7  Chorus closing song of Act I, people eager for Xmas – 'Deck the Halls'

Act II

8  Party at Boodles' house: The Sussex Carol ('On Christmas night all Christians sing')
9* Thematic song during Xmas Yet to Come scenes – Tune: 'See amid the winter snow'
10* In bedroom between calling for turkey and gentlemen visiting – Tune: 'Hark, the herald angels sing'
11* Change of scene & time between visiting Boodles and being in Counting House next day – Tune: 'Ash Grove'
12* Change of scene & time between visiting Boodles and being in Counting House next day – Tune: 'God rest you merry, gentlemen'
13  Chorus closing number: 'I wish it could be Christmas every day'

* = Special words in script


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