By Marilyn Delk
As the kindergarten through third grade students clad in holiday sweaters and other festive apparel entered the Arcanum Elementary School gym, the enthusiasm for what they were about to see was evident. One little girl looked at the evocative set, and instantly exclaimed, “It looks just like a Dr. Seuss!” She was right; and the actors’ lines often sounded just like a Dr. Seuss, in spite of the script constantly having the characters deny that the good doctor had anything to do with the story they were presenting, and even though the show’s title IS A Seussified Christmas Carol.
Darke County Center for the Arts took Cincinnati Children’s Theatre’s holiday show to students in all Darke County and Greenville City schools during the week of Dec. 5 as the final offering of DCCA’s 2022-2023 Arts In Education series. Based on the reactions I witnessed when accompanying the artists, to say that A Seussified Christmas Carol was well-received would be a vast understatement.
The rapid-fire delivery of the rhyming script in Dr. Seuss-speak kept everyone engaged throughout; during CCT’s version of a “good story that happens to be in our inventory,” Scrooge is described as a Christmas defeater whose heart is two sizes too small, while Bob Cratchett speaks lines assuring one and all that Christmas is full of good will and joy unrestrained. When Marley’s ghost shows up, he informs his former business partner that after “going to ghost-training camp,” he is “way more hip now that I’m dead.” The ghost also assures Scrooge he has a chance to escape the fate Marley has endured, but that to achieve that outcome, the miserable miser must visit events from his past.
The Ghost of Christmas Past reveals that when Scrooge was a young man, he was something of a rock star who joyfully courted the lovely Belle. However, when Belle sadly informs a young Scrooge that his life was becoming “tightwad-ish and blank,” and that he must choose between her and his money, he hesitates. As he considers the choice, she sadly disappears.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is himself a Seuss-ian play on words; the spirit takes the form of a Christmas present—a puppet shaped like a gift box with a big bow on top. The trip to the Cratchit’s house where Bob, Mrs. Cratchit, and Tiny Tim happily celebrate with joy what little they have moves Scrooge to observe that the family’s Christmas feast is “sort of like eating just one pepperoni, but look how they savor it, how they look grateful!”
The Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-come, Sven, who is actually a sheet thrown over a broom handle stuck in a washtub, transports the wealthy Scrooge to the world of those less fortunate; the painful images revealed are quite accurately described by the ghost as “a guilt trip.” And magically, when Scrooge awakens the next morning, he realizes that “his heart has grown three sizes” during the night; he manages to speak the words “Merry Christmas,” shocking people with this new attitude in which he extends his heartfelt generosity to the world, including of course, the Cratchits.
The happy ending is reinforced with Tiny Tim’s heartfelt words, “God bless us, every one!” Additionally, the cast finally admits that the Dickens classic has indeed been Seussified, but the enthralled audience already knew that. And the students also gained a better understanding of the true value of wealth and the worth of being kind to others as one works to achieve life goals. But mostly, they had a wonderful time; and DCCA’s Arts In Education Series has once again spread joy and wonder that will last well beyond this holiday season.