A Christmas Carol Synopsis

A Christmas Carol - The Musical Synopsis & Content Advisory


Content Advisory

A Christmas Carol – The Musical is a musical version of a classic ghost story. While this production may be appropriate for your young children, please be advised that this show includes the following:

  • Some possibly scary moments including depictions of ghosts
  • Special effect fogs and lights.

We understand that given the content and run-time of this production, it may be difficult for some young children to stay still. However, to preserve the experience for the entire audience, the Arvada Center reserves the right to ask any families with children that may distract others to momentarily step into the lobby.

Act 1

On Christmas Eve as carolers sing, the businessmen that work at The Royal Exchange celebrate. Mr. Smythe and his daughter Grace enter looking for the boss Ebenezer Scrooge, as Mrs. Smythe has died and they need the money that he owes Scrooge to pay for the funeral, but Scrooge is having none of it. Scrooge remains steadfast on them paying their debt, despite the pleading of young Grace, so the Smythes leave, dejected.

Scrooge’s assistant Bob Cratchit asks if he can get paid early so that he can care for his sick son Tiny Tim. Scrooge begrudgingly gives him a coin and tells him he needs to come to work early on Christmas Day to make up for it.

The shopping stalls are packed with people, and Scrooge hurries along, declining an invitation to Christmas dinner by his nephew Fred with a loud “Bah, Humbug!” As he brushes past everyone to get home, a blind old woman stops him and asks for some change. When he says no, she grabs him strongly by the arm and says that he will remember her one day in the future, and to take a good hard look at himself, before it’s too late. She releases her grip, and as he rushes off, he is stopped by the funeral procession for Mrs. Smythe.

Scrooge arrives at his house, and as he fumbles for his door key, the ghost of his old business parter Jacob Marley appears on the house, wrapped in chains with a white, ghostly face and calling Scrooge’s name. The face disappears, leaving Scrooge frozen in shock. He tells his maid that he thought he saw his old business partner, and she reminds him that Marley died seven years ago that very night.

Scrooge changes into his nightgown, pokes his fire, and sits down to a bowl of gruel. Suddenly, bells begin to ring all over the house, books fall off shelves, voices wail, and the Ghost of Marley appears out of the billowing smoke from the fireplace.  He’s covered in chains, safeboxes and metal keys, wailing and moaning.

The Ghost of Marley warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts that night at the strikes of the clock. Other ghosts then enter, each dragging chains and with various deformities, including a headless ghost who tosses his head at Scrooge. They open a closet door which contains a skeleton, and warn Scrooge about his potential future, eventually covering him in a cobweb of chains. Scrooge brushes it all off as a dream and heads to bed.

The clock strikes one, and the Ghost of Christmas Past appears. This ghost is a twinkly, spritely being carrying a book that lights up when opened. Across the stage, we see Scrooge at age 8, and four ghosts appear to grab the bed that adult Scrooge is and spin it off stage.

We see several tableaus from various times in Scrooge’s life- at age 8 watching his father get dragged away to debtor’s prison, at age 12 writing a letter to his now-deceased sister remembering Christmas past, and young man Scrooge at the holiday party thrown by his old boss, Mr. Fezziwig. At the party, we see young Scrooge ask his love Emily to marry him, and while she says yes, he tells her that they must wait so that he can save money.

We fast forward a little to see Scrooge and Marley at the beginning of their partnership, coldly charging interest to their creditors, including a now deep in debt Mr. Fezziwig.

Scrooge begs the Ghost of Christmas Past to quit showing him these memories, but it goes on. We see Emily give Scrooge his ring back because he only loves money. The Ghost of Marley appears behind Young Marley, causing Young Marley to clutch his heart and fall to the floor. Scrooge cries out as the Ghost of Christmas Past disappears. The ghost reappears suddenly, startling Scrooge, before leaving him all alone.

The clock strikes two, and with the sound of hearty laughter, the Ghost of Christmas Present appears. He is large, jovial, and wears a long green robe and a wreath around his head. After a dance interlude, the Cratchit house appears, with Tiny Tim singing out the window. Scrooge sees Tiny Tim hobble upstairs on crutches- his legs are in heavy leather braces. Inside, the family is poor, but happy due to their love for each other.

Act 2

Scrooge and the ghost watch as Cratchit carefully carries Tiny Tim up the stairs. The ghost then opens his robe and shows Scrooge two more starving children with their arms outstretched. Scrooge begins to soften and insists that the ghost tell him what he needs to do.

Scrooge is all alone in front of his house. As he tries to open the door, the clock strikes three, and the old blind woman from the beginning of the story walks toward him.

Gravediggers are working in a cemetery, while hooded monks enter chanting. The blind old woman turns into the Ghost of Christmas Future, and grows taller as she is lifted into the sky. The ghost begins to dance on the grave, and two businessmen walk by, talking about how no one came to the funeral of “terrible, mean old what’s his name.” Then we move to a scene of a corpse on a bed, and we watch as undertakers take the clothes off the corpse and dump the body aside unceremoniously. The character Old Joe walks by with a wagon of skulls and bones, talking about what a nice profit he will make off of the clothes from the body, and Scrooge realizes that this dead man is him.

Back at the graveyard, we watch the Cratchit family lay Tiny Tim’s crutch along a grave. Suddenly, with a giant roar, a huge tombstone rises inscribed with Scrooge’s name. As Scrooge sings, the Ghost of Christmas Future entangles Scrooge in a white shroud as he struggles to break free.

Scrooge wakes up on his bedroom floor. A street urchin knocks on his door and begins singing. Scrooge runs to the door and quickly asks the boy what day it is. “Why it’s Christmas Day, sir!” This causes Scrooge to dance, delirious with joy and asks the boy if a certain prized turkey has been sold yet. When he hears that it still hangs at the butcher, Scrooge gives the boy some coins and quickly runs off to purchase the bird. He sings through the streets, joined by the other townspeople, ending up finally at the Cratchit house where they join him in celebrating goodwill to all.