A COUNTRY CAROL
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ACT I
EBBEN, 32, a rich, cynical, and successful theater producer, sits in his office on the day before Christmas 1909, counting his latest receipts. His assistant, GLORIA, an aspiring actress, asks for Christmas Day off, which prompts Ebben's scathing opinion of what "CHRISTMAS IS". Gloria and a DO-GOODER counter with their generous version, joined in counter melody by a MOTHER and CLARA in the street outside singing the joyful "IT'S CHRISTMAS EVERYWHERE!" All three melodies are sung against each other as EBBEN proceeds to his apartment, where he prepares for sleep.

JAKE'S GHOST appears. Not good at the magical tricks a ghost can employ, he drops his heavy chain on his foot, then explains that God, whom he calls The Big Guy, has "improved" A Christmas Carol as a love story, and Ebben is part of the rewrite. Ebben is dubious, but the Ghost manages to make him touch his sleeve and away they go.

Scene 3 takes place in spring, 1899, in Butterfly Holla, far back in the Appalachian Mountains. BELLE, Young Ebben's wife, and CRATCH, his best friend, are planting, when Young Ebben comes to sing them his latest song, "LISTEN TO THE LAND." He longs to go to New York and share his talents with more than just "holla folks." When a letter arrives granting him an audition in nearby Hedleyville, Belle agrees to let him go, but sends Cratch to keep an eye on him, secretly admitting that she is pregnant.

Young Ebben's ballad doesn't impress the hard-edged JAKE, but his sexy lady-of-the-moment, LYDIA, asks for something livelier. "PO' WHITE TRASH" is hilarious, and Jake and Lydia decide that Young Ebben and Cratch are their ticket into vaudeville. Young Ebben, thrilled that he's "GETTIN' THE HELL OUTTA THE HOLLA," persuades Belle to let him try. Cratch, who loves Belle, agrees to play nursemaid.

"HOG HEAV'N", Young Ebben's next musical creation, details the plight of Bubba the Pig on hog-killing day. A producer spots Young Ebben and wants him and Lydia for his next show. Young Ebben has doubts about going to New York so soon, but Jake and Lydia convince him that "THE VIEW FROM THE TOP" is not to be missed.

Belle tells Young Ebben that she can't go with him, but, mindful of the dilemma it would put Young Ebben in, decides not to tell him about the baby. He angrily accuses her of forgetting their marriage vows.

Two weeks before opening, Young Ebben is rehearsing when Cratch blows up at him for forgetting Belle. Young Ebben fires Cratch. As he and Lydia rehearse "I COULDN'T CARE LESS," the scene changes to opening night, and they are a huge hit. In "NEW CENTURY," they and Jake celebrate the fame and fortune bound to soon be theirs. Outside, Belle, summoned by Cratch, watches as Young Ebben, Lydia, and Jake stumble drunkenly back to the party. When Young Ebben passionately kisses Lydia, Belle confronts him and runs off. As Jake and Lydia continue to praise the "NEW CENTURY," Young Ebben angrily sings he'll "NEVER GO BACK TO THE HOLLA."

ACT II
The GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT, speaking with an Italian accent, explains that spirits have no feelings. "IF YOU CAN FEEL," he sings, then you're alive. Ebben cynically counters that he doesn't need to feel, because "I'm all that's real!"

They travel to Butterfly Holla, where Cratch, Belle, and TINA, Belle's 10-year-old daughter, are rehearsing "LET MY SPIRIT RISE!" for the church Christmas pageant. Tina, upset at not having a father, runs off. Belle, in the carousel waltz "SECOND CHANCES," wonders if maybe she should have told Young Ebben about his child. Ebben, struck with this news, "dances" with Belle, though they cannot touch. Tina comes back to sing "DO I BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS?," as Ebben learns that his daughter is turning into the cynic he has become.

The GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE takes OLDER EBBEN to Christmas, 1928, where he sees what a detestable man he turns into. In the hard-rock song, "YOU CAN COUNT ON IT," Older Ebben rants to Lydia about the blessings of money, then refuses to give her a job. As Lydia leaves, the Ghost points Ebben towards a grave.

Believing, as with the Dickens original, that this will be the grave of Tiny Tim/Tina, Ebben is devastated to learn that it is Belle who has died. In despair, he sings "WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS," asking what one does when "the feelings fade, and the words no longer rhyme." He throws himself on the ground, begging for help and forgiveness.

Ebben awakes to find it is only Christmas Day. He joyfully sings "GETTIN' BACK TO THE HOLLA." Once there, he tells Tina he's her father, they reprise "DO I BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS," and he and Belle give each other "SECOND CHANCES." All is repaired and renewed as the company sings "LISTEN TO THE LAND."

The Big Guy's love story rewrite. is complete!

CAST OF CHARACTERS (In Order of Appearance)
All of the characters are played by six actors, with doubling as indicated.

EBBEN (1909): Around age 32, conceited, sarcastic, cynical, and unfeeling. Speaks without an accent.

GLORIA: An aspiring actress with a good heart but not much talent, early 20's. Played by actress who plays Lydia.

DO-GOODER: 30's, full of Christmas spirit. Played by actor who plays Cratch.

MOTHER: 30's, poor. Played by actress who plays Belle.

CLARA: A young child, 10, in love with Christmas. Played by actress who plays Tina.

JAKE'S GHOST: Jewish, 40's, on intimate terms with The Big Guy. Played by same actor who plays Jake.

YOUNG EBBEN: Around age 22, a dreamer,-- not dumb--, with a passion for making something of himself by using his musical talent. In love with Belle. Speaks with a mountain accent. Played by actor who plays Ebben.

BELLE: Around age 22, spiritual, loves the land, loves Ebben. Strong mountain woman.

CRATCH: Ebben's best friend, in love with Belle, fun-loving, a preacher, age 22.

LURLEEN: A young mountain girl. Played by actress who plays Tina.

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST: Friendly. Played by actor who plays Jake.

JAKE: 40's, a tough producer, do anything to get to the top.

LYDIA: Around 30, been around, oozes sexiness without trying, falls in love with Ebben.

STAGEHAND: Played either by stage manager or Tina. Also plays Ghost of Christmas Past at the end of Act I: no lines.

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT: Italian with a booming voice. Played by actor who plays Jake.

TINA (1909): Around 9 , a mountain girl with the same passions as her father, Ebben.

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE: A good pointer. Played by actor playing Jake.

OLDER EBBEN (1928): Dried up, old before his time, a little crazed from loneliness. Played by actor who plays Ebben.

THE BIG GUY: Played by Himself

SCENES / MUSICAL NUMBERS
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ACT I

Scene 1.

Ebben's Office/NYC Street/Ebben's Apartment, Christmas Eve Day, 1909.

"CHRISTMAS IS" - - EBBEN/GLORIA/DO-GOODER

"IT'S CHRISTMAS EVERYWHERE!" - - MOTHER/CLARA

Scene 2.

Ebben's Apartment, immediately afterwards.

Scene 3.

Butterfly Holla, somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, April 30, 1899.

LISTEN TO THE LAND" - - YOUNG EBBEN/BELLE

Scene 4.

Inside a carnival tent, somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, May 2, 1899.

"PO' WHITE TRASH" - - YOUNG.EBBEN/CRATCH

"GETTIN' THE HELL OUTTA THE HOLLA" - - YOUNG EBBEN/CRATCH

Butterfly Holla, immediately afterwards.

"GETTIN' THE HELL OUTTA THE HOLLA" - - YG. EBBEN/CRATCH/BELLE

Scene 5.

A vaudeville stage, summer, 1899.

"HOG HEAV'N……………………………YOUNG EBBEN/CRATCH/LYDIA

"THE VIEW FROM THE TOP"…………………………………..JAKE/LYDIA

"THE VIEW FROM THE TOP"-REPRISE…………………..YOUNG EBBEN

Scene 6.

Butterfly Holla, late summer, 1899.

Scene 7.

The Palace Theater, New York City, late November, 1899..

"I COULDN'T CARE LESS"………………………..YOUNG EBBEN/LYDIA

Scene 8.

The Palace Theater/NYC street, mid-December, 1899.

"NEW CENTURY"………………..JAKE/YOUNG EBBEN/BELLE/CRATCH

"GETTING' THE HELL OUTTA THE HOLLA" - REPRISE - - YG. EBBEN

ACT II

Scene 1.

Ebben's Apartment, New York City, Christmas Eve, 1909.

"IF YOU CAN FEEL" - - GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT/EBBEN

Scene 2.

Butterfly Holla, Christmas Eve, 1909.

"LET MY SPIRIT RISE!" - - CRATCH/BELLE/TINA

"DO I BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS?" - - TINA

"SECOND CHANCES" - - BELLE/EBBEN

Scene 3.

Older Ebben's office penthouse, New York City, Christmas Eve Day, 1928.

"YOU CAN COUNT ON IT" - - OLDER EBBEN

Scene 4.

Butterfly Holla, sometime in the future.

"THE SINGIN' OF A SPIRIT" - - CRATCH/TINA/BELLE

"LISTEN TO THE LAND"-REPRISE - - EBBEN/BELLE

"WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS" - - EBBEN

Scene 5.

Ebben' apartment, New York City, Christmas morning, 1909.

"GETTING' THE HELL OUTTA THE HOLLA"-REPRISE - - EBBEN

Butterfly Holla, Christmas Day, evening, 1909.

"DO I BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS?"-REPRISE - - TINA/EBBEN

"SECOND CHANCES"-REPRISE - - EBBEN/BELLE

"LISTEN TO THE LAND"--REPRISE - - EBBEN/BELLE/TINA/CRATCH

Curtain Call:

"A COUNTRY CAROL"

NOTES ON PRODUCTION

The stage should feel like a magical place, but not "cartoony." Great fun should be had with the appearances of the ghosts, and any opportunity for fun should be seized if it fits the mood of the scene. Similarly, when Ebben and the Ghosts "time travel," music, lights, and "body movement" should be employed to great effect.

The scenes should flow from place to place without much, if any, time spent changing scenery.

SETTINGS:

Since there are numerous settings, a unit set with suggestions of changes in place might be best. Butterfly Holla should feel open and free, with a sense of the altitude of high mountains. New York scenes should feel cramped and stifling. Stage scenes can be indicated by merely changing the Announcement Placard on the side of the stage.

A set with simple furnishings, with perhaps a street lamp to indicate city exteriors, will best serve the film-like seamlessness of scene-flow.

COSTUMES:

The ghosts should resemble a parody of the Dickens' ghosts, as indicated. All other costumes are realistic.

LIGHTING:

Inspired lighting can greatly enhance the production, especially in achieving magical effects.

SOUND:

There are several sound cues which are integral to the plot.