Charles Dickens' a Christmas Carol: A Dramatic Pre
One of my earliest and still-present childhood memories is of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It was at my Uncle Jimmy's house in Montreal at Christmas time. For some reason, a recording (those old 78's - this was back in the early 50's) of Sir Michael Redgrave's reading was playing on the record player. I was immediately entranced by the sound of his voice with eerie music in the background creating a frightening reality in my young head, my own little 'theatre of the imagination'. Those sounds have never left my sense memory. In the years that followed, I played Bob Cratchitt in High School in Montreal, Scrooge in KBPS Radio Theatre in Oregon, Cratchitt at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Ghost of Christmas Present again at MTC, and, for the past ten years, I have performed this adaptation of the story in the cozy attic of 'Dalnavert', the Historic Landmark mansion in downtown Winnipeg starting with one night in the first year and now up to a full week of 'sell-out houses' with waiting lists! Well, you can see I have a long history with the piece! This recording seems to be the pinnacle of that history. When Clint Skibitzky and Olaf Pyttlik approached me about the project, I jumped at the opportunity. Over the course of a few weeks in the Spring of 1999, Nolan Balzer and I laid down the voice tracks. I then had to go off and do a production in the States but couldn't wait to get back and start the real work of re-creating the Redgrave atmosphere that was still in my head. Nolan turned out to be a master at reading my mind and a genius at coming up with exactly the right sound effect or musical moment, and at every moment, we seemed connected and on the same dramatic wavelength. I can't thank him enough for his sensitivity, humour and creativity during those long, long hours in the studio sitting at the computer screens manipulating the cursor and fulfilling my dream. He is truly the magical force behind this recording. Clint and Olaf of DACAPO Productions are to be thanked from the bottom of my heart for having the vision of this project in the first place. Their guidance and wisdom drove the project and they are responsible for getting it into your hands (and hopefully, your heart). And lastly, I want to pay special homage to and dedicate this performance to my Uncle Jimmy (he will be the first person to whom I send this recording) for putting the recording on the turntable to begin with, and to my Mom for borrowing the recordings year after year and playing them at home each Christmas while I was growing up. This recording is a tribute to them. Perhaps it is ungracious to say so, but I am very proud of this work. It has been a wonderful experience for me, and I hope the depth and warmth of Dickens' wonderful words will touch you. May the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come be with you always, and may the reclamation of all the world's Scrooges be just around the corner. 'God Bless Us, Everyone!' Richard Hurst, Winnipeg, August, 1999.