Christopher Durang


Full Length Plays

Mr. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge

 

Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge was commissioned by City Theatre in Pittsburgh, and premiered on November 7, 2002.  Tracy Brigden, artistic director, David Jobin, managing director, Kellee Van Aken, artistic associate.  It was directed by Tracy Brigden; set design was by Jeff Cowie, costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy, lighting design by Rick Martin, sound design by Elizabeth Atkinson.  Songs (4) had lyrics by Durang, and music by Michael Friedman.  Music direction was by Douglas Levine, and musical staging was by Scott Wise.  Production stage manager was Patti Kelly, and hair design was by Elsen Associates, Inc.  The cast was:

 

The Ghost of Christmas Past
/Present/and Future


...............................


January Murelli

Ebeneezer Scrooge

...............................

Douglas Rees

Mrs. Bob Cratchit

...............................

Kristine Nielsen

Bob Cratchit

...............................

Martin Giles

Tiny Tim

...............................

Darren E. Focareta

Little Nell Cratchit

...............................

Sheila McKenna

Cratchit Child 1

...............................

Lauren Rose Gigliotti or Allison Hannon

Cratchit Child 2

...............................

Shane Jordan or Matt Lang

Gentlemen Collecting for Christmas
(Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling)
...............................

Jeff Howell, Matthew Gaydos,

Jacob Marley’s Ghost

...............................

Larry John Meyers

Young Jacob Marley

...............................

Lauren Rose Gigliotti or Allison Hannon

Young Ebeneezer Scrooge

...............................

Shane Jordan or Matt Lang

Mr. Fezziwig

...............................

Jeff Howell

Mrs. Fezziwig

...............................

Sheila McKenna

Fezziwig Daughters

...............................

Darren E. Focareta, Elena Passarello

The Beadle

...............................

Jeff Howell

The Beadle’s Wife

...............................

Sheila McKenna

Edvar

...............................

Matthew Gaydos

Hedwig

...............................

Elena Passarello

Bartender 1

...............................

Larry John Meyers

Bartender 2

...............................

Jeff Howell

Clarence (the angel)

...............................

Larry John Meyers

George Bailey

...............................

Matthew Gaydos

Zuzu Bailey

...............................

Lauren Rose Gigliotti or Allison Hannon

Monica (the angel)

...............................

Elena Passarello

The Nice Mrs. Cratchit

...............................

Elena Passarello

Serena the maid

...............................

Matthew Gaydos

 

note on cast size: 
The cast above consists of 10 adult actors (4 women, 6 men) and 2 children (1 boy, 1 girl). 

Five of the adults play only one part: Ghost, Scrooge, Mrs. Bob Cratchit, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim.  (Well in the City Theatre production, Tiny Tim also played the wordless Fezziwig daughter.)  

The other five adults double in various parts; and the two children share five parts among them: Young Ebeneezer, Young Jacob Marley, Cratchit Child 1, Cratchit Child 2, and Zuzu.


Commissioned by City Theatre in Pittsburgh and successfully presented in Nov-Dec of 2002, Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge is a playful, cracked look at the perennial Dickens Christmas classic about mean Ebeneezer Scrooge and his discovering the true meaning of Christmas through the visitation of Three Ghosts.  In Durang’s giddy version, the Ghost’s magic is off, and Scrooge and the Ghost keep showing up at Bob Cratchit’s house way too early, where Mrs. Bob Cratchit – a long suffering saint in the Dickens – is in a state of fury, hating her life and planning on getting drunk and jumping off the London Bridge.

Sometimes Christmas is hard to avoid even if you want to… so if you’re a theatre and you want to acknowledge Christmas but not tell the Scrooge story AGAIN, this is a fun play to consider.

Some critics said:

…abundant laughter… "Mrs. Bob" is a rollicking parody that caters to our desire to have our traditional holiday and mock it, too.  … "Mrs. Bob" should settle into a long and profitable life.
     -- Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Playwright’s "Christmas Carol" variation a hilarious success.  Yes, Christopher Durang, the legendary force behind "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You," has done it again…  [the show] goes in so many wonderfully loony directions at once – after all, it is called “wild”… You may have thought Mrs. Cratchit was a minor character before, but Kristine Nielsen’s comic genius makes her unforgettable.  …You go.  Get it while it’s hot.  It will start showing up soon at a theatre near someone else, everywhere else.
     -- Gordon Spencer, Pittsburgh Pulp

 [Durang’s] fiendishly funny "Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge" never disappoints in its world premiere at City Theater in Pittsburgh.  Wild it most certainly is, without apologies and with no regret.  "Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge" moves on to gleefully satirize not only "A Christmas Carol" but also the right bits and pieces of "It’s a Wonderful Life," "The Gift of the Magi," "Oliver Twist," and "Touched by an Angel."  Send-ups are often immersed in venom, but this one wears an ear-to-ear smile…
     -- Doug Shanaberger, Observer-Reporter

…It’s part pastiche, part parody and mostly all comedy, with some witty new songs.  …The "Mrs. Bob" of the title is the usually unnamed and usually cheerful wife of the much put-upon Bob Cratchit.  In the Durang version, she is not at all happy about poverty, hunger and suffering, and she unwittingly sabotages the efforts to teach Scrooge the so-called true meaning of Christmas.  … Give yourself a much-needed holiday gift at the City Theatre’s main stage.
     -- Michelle Pilecki, WQED

Durang’s Merry Mayhem was a True Gift [headline].  …Last weekend I revisited the latest adaption of Dickens, Christopher Durang’s "Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge" at City Theatre.  It was splendid… Watching the accomplished cast ride the waves of laughter with practiced ease was a pleasure.
     -- Christopher Rawson, Post-Gazette

"Mrs. Bob Cratchit" really only has one thing on its mind – to make you laugh as loudly and as long as possible.  And since I love [Durang] so much, I  hope all [future] productions are as good as thing one. …And for anyone even remotely interested in how to create and sustain a brilliant comedic performance, Kristine Nielsen, in the title role, is giving a textbook example nightly on the City Stage theatre.
     -- Ted Hoover, CP Arts & Entertainment

 

The Story:


A sassy, theatrical black woman comes on stage and introduces herself as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Still to Come.  (She’s all of them.)  She shows us Young Jacob Marley singing Christmas carols, but Young Ebeneezer Scrooge hates carols and drowns him out with “Bah!  Humbug!” The Ghost explains that in later centuries Scrooge’s repeated saying of “Bah Humbug” would probably be diagnosed as a kind of “seasonal Tourette’s Syndrome,” but that in 1843, they hadn’t a clue what it meant.

Then she introduces grown up Ebeneezer, unpleasant as ever, with his grown-up “Bah, humbug!” sort of exploding out of him from time to time, with little head jerks and quivers.

The Ghost tries, of course, to redeem Scrooge’s miserly, mean personality, but her attempts keep being thwarted by Mrs. Bob Cratchit, who is in angry despair at the pathos of her life and keeps trying to drown herself by jumping off the London Bridge.  Indeed, The Ghost and Scrooge meet Mrs. Cratchit way before they’re supposed to – the Ghost keeps trying to get them to the cheerful Fezziwigs from Scrooge’s past, but she keeps taking them other places by mistake.

As the story goes on, Scrooge is mistakenly shown a cracked version of O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi story, and when the Ghost tries to show him his childhood, they end up back in Oliver Twist for a while.   Scrooge seems unable to learn anything in this outing, and as time goes on he seems to fall in love with the misbehaving, nasty Mrs. Cratchit.  

Finally Clarence the angel shows up (the one from the Jimmy Stewart movie, It’s a Wonderful Life), and with with the help of Monica from Touched by an Angel, the story ends up happily, sort of.   Bob Cratchit is matched up with the “Nice Mrs. Cratchit,” an alternative Mrs. Cratchit who embraces her poverty and large family and is lovely and nice, while Scrooge and the original Mrs. Cratchit are spirited off to a later century and marry and get to be rich and mean in 1977 and enjoy it.  The Ghost tries to explain the moral of it all but can’t really, so they all sing a nice if muddled song about Christmas at the end.


Cast Size: 6 Men, 4 Women  Children: 1 boy, 1 girl

(The 6 men include a boyish actor to play Tiny Tim, which is probably the wisest way to cast it.  If you had a very talented child actor, it’s possible to have him play Tiny Tim.  Plus given the style of the piece, you could have the two children be played by adults as well, up to you.)


Rights to Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmast Binge are being handled by Dramatists Play Service

 

photos by Ric Evans

 

Disgusting British Christmas pudding.
(l to r) Mckenna, Focareta, Giles, Nielsen;  
(up left) Lang; (back to camera) Hannon
Final Song: 
Hip Hooray and Yup -De-Doo
(l to r) Murelli, Nielson, Gaydos, Rees

 

home    table of contents    news    bio    published plays    full length plays    one act plays

performance rights    film/tv writing    interviews & Essays    for students    acting work    guest book