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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Most people know the story of “A Christmas Carol” from the Muppets’ adaptation, the Bill Murray movie “Scrooged,” or a school play from years past. But, it’s highly unlikely that even the biggest Christmas lover has ever heard the story directly from the source material.
On Thursday morning at the Tolles-Parsons Center, Johnny Kinsman changed that when he read the story just as it was written, while using his acting skills to differentiate the characters. But first, Kinsman wanted to give a brief explanation of both how Dickens came to write the story and how Kinsman came to appreciate it.
Kinsman talked about how Dickens’ background made him uniquely able to sympathize with the poor while not completely vilifying the rich, as Dickens spent his childhood brutally poor before his writing made him extremely wealthy. One of the ways Dickens made money was through public readings of his stories, and the first stop on his “Christmas Carol” tour was in Boston. In Boston, Dickens stayed at the Parker House Hotel, and Kinsman explained that the hotel will let you see not only the room he slept in, but the mirror into which he practiced reading.
As for Kinsman’s association with the Christmas classic, one of his first introductions to theatre came when he played “solicitor number six” in a production. But if you were anxiously awaiting his reprisal of the role on Thursday, you would have been disappointed.
“It’s not a role that exists in any other version I’ve seen,” Kinsman explained. “I must have been cute enough that they put me in a top hat and made one up.”
Kinsman also noted how, as he’s gotten older and become a father, he has come to identify with different characters in the story. He now identifies with Bob Cratchit, the man grinding every day for a paycheck, so although Kinsman was a bit under the weather and had spent the day before with no voice, he knew the show had to go on.
“I’ll try to get through it, but if I don’t, we all know the ending, right?” he joked.
Kinsman did get through it, performing the entire story to the delight of the crowd. While likely not the last “Christmas Carol” adaptation the audience members will be blessed enough to have witnessed, it will likely be both the most unique and most faithful.