Dickens 'honors Christmas in his heart' and stops by FDU to spread cheer
Scrooge, portrayed by Gerald Charles Dickens, reacts in horror and agony at his own grave as the Ghost of Christmas Future shows him his fate.
By Kenna Caprio
The stage is set — hat, clock, fireplace, rug, cane, lamp and chair — soon Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim and all the rest will grace it as actor Gerald Charles Dickens, great-great grandson of the literary master, readies to perform his one-man show.
Before the show starts, as microphone and lighting options are checked and reserved seating arranged, Dickens jokes with some of the Fairleigh Dickinson University staff who helped arrange the staging of “A Christmas Carol.”
Talking about touring in America, Dickens says he loves it and has been here performing every year since 1994, except for two, maybe. He quips that he’s been “working on my accent for a very long time, almost got it down,” and says, with a laugh, that sometimes after touring around he ends up slipping in a different accent and has to practice “being British again.”
Dickens sits then, and speaks to his great-great grandfather’s passion for acting and about the legacy of “A Christmas Carol.” “We’ve all got a bit of Scrooge or Cratchit in us,” he says.
As he rehearses a few key scenes, “Marley is dead,” and “I will honor Christmas in my heart,” while being photographed and filmed, Dickens deftly moves from playing one character to the next. Without many props and with almost no set, he relies solely on mannerisms, voices and movements to portray 26 characters in the classic tale. It works on every level and it is obvious that Dickens took his inspired cues from his great-great grandfather’s own energetic and theatrical readings in the 1860s.
After the first full performance at 3 p.m., Dickens signs autographs and chats with students, staff, faculty, seniors and other theater-goers outside the Wilson Auditorium in Dickinson Hall on the Metropolitan Campus.
He poses for pictures, smiles as he chats and continues to be in good humor as he was on stage. Earlier, Dickens commented “Charles Dickens never lectured or bullied his audiences (despite the social commentary in his novels), just entertained them.” It seems to run in the family.
The presentation of “A Christmas Carol” was sponsored by the Anthony J. Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies.