Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy Ramadan is a unique and original creation and suitable for viewers of all ages. The current production taped at Theater for the New City has been updated to now include songs in Czech, English, Hebrew, Slovak, Spanish and Swahili. As with previous incarnations, puppeteer/narrator Vit Hořejš who has adapted and directed this version of the Charles Dickens classic manipulates all of the puppets to tell the heartwarming Christmas tale. The show also includes a blend of English, Jewish, African and Czech winter rituals and customs. Hořejš’ narration turns the the story into a Czech folk tale.
The 30 puppets by Miloš Kasal and Václav Krčál which also include historic Czech and Slovak varieties are of varying sizes from six-inch toy marionettes to twelve-foot rod puppets. There are ghost puppets by Hořejš himself as well as a large size camel used in previous Czechoslovak- American Marionette Theatre’s productions. The Ghost of Marley is made of chain and original to the production while the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come is a large red devil complete with horns.
The witty show includes intentional anachronisms to update and tweak the story: Uber, a fiddler on the roof, bitcoins, Black Friday, The Sunday Times, frequent flyer miles, seat belts, National Health Plan, etc., are contemporary references which make this suitable for adult viewers.
The set uses a century-old toy marionette theater donated by Madeleine Albright as well as a second locale for Scrooge’s bedroom. The set design by Michelle Beshaw is strung with colored Christmas lights by designer Federico Restrepo. The variegated Czech and Slovakian inspired costumes are also by Beshaw.
Not only is this a puppet show but it is also an extended concert. This year’s vocalists are Valois Mickens, of West African, Celtic, and Native American origin, and Katarina Vizina, a transplant from Slovakia, who sing pieces of about 20 carols and songs including “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Silent Night,” and “The Dreidel Song” in the original languages. Occasionally they participate in the action, as well as in the prologue that sets up the show.
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy Ramadan” is an entertaining and novel take on the well-known tale. However, its unique departures from the original story make this a surprising and unusual evening of fun for the whole family during this holiday season, one that can now be seen from the comfort of one’s own home.
A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy Ramadan (streaming from December 22, 2021 – January 9, 2022)
For tickets, visit http://www.theaterforthenewcity.net
For more information, call 212-254-1109
Running time: one hour and 17 minutes without an intermission