Audiobooks are a modern marvel, making the time fly when you’re doing housework and much less nervewracking than the day’s bad news on the radio when you’re driving. Hearing stories that you love read aloud by their authors – who know just where to put the pregnant pauses and how to pronounce the odd names – is extra-special. Back in the days before recording technology, great writers used to do this sort of thing in person, augmenting their incomes by touring the world’s stages to read/perform their written works aloud for rapt audiences in packed theaters.
These reading tours were a specialty of Charles Dickens, who crafted his own condensed one-hour stage version of his most popular work, A Christmas Carol, and did different voices for all his iconic characters. When Dickens toured the US with it in 1867-68, people camped overnight in the streets to buy tickets. President Andrew Johnson is said to have brought his family to hear A Christmas Carol every night of its Washington, DC run; Mark Twain caught it at Steinway Hall in New York City.
Since Dickens died in 1870 and time travel hasn’t been invented yet, we can only sigh over never having any opportunity to catch one of these historic performances. Or else…we can wend our way to the craggy flanks of the southern Shawangunks to visit Cragsmoor’s beautiful Stone Church this Saturday evening, December 19, when actor Gregg Shults will embody the famous author in a one-man production of Mr. Dickens Tells A Christmas Carol. This stage adaptation by Melinda O’Brien is produced by the M & M Productions Acting Company and directed by Michael Muldoon.
The show begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 19, following the 5 p.m. “Festival of Lessons and Carols.” The church will be adorned with traditional holiday decorations and a Christmas tree. Hot cider and cookies will be served. A donation of $10 is suggested, with all proceeds benefiting the Cragsmoor Historical Society Building Restoration Fund and the Stone Church, located at 270 Henry Road in Cragsmoor, off Route 52 between Pine Bush and Ellenville. For more information call (845) 647-6487 or (845) 647-6384 or visit www.cragsmoor.info.