Rehearsals for the Grassington Players Christmas production

There is surely nothing more Christmassy than a Dickens production.

For 31 years, Grassington Players – a Dales theatre group – has been performing an annual production timed to coincide with the village’s popular Dickensian Festival.

Usually a blend of Christmas material paying some lip service to Charles Dickens, this year’s show really is a tribute to the world’s favourite Victorian author.

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth, the brand new show is the brainchild of Beverley Cuerden, a member of the Players who is experienced both as a performer and a director.  A Dickens of A Christmas is a project she has researched and written over the course of eighteen months.

Initially having looked for a licensed production to perform which would champion Dickens, she soon found that apart from stalwart favourites such as Oliver, there was nothing available to perform that gave any insight into the man himself and the richness of his works.  By now her interest was piqued and she began reading more of his material and biographies of his life. Her research uncovered many ‘astounding, hard and dark’ works about Dickens and a name which kept recurring; that of John Forster, Dickens’ lifelong friend.

Beverley’s production takes the form of a dialogue between these two friends reminiscing on the eve of Dickens’ death.  It features a blend of scenes and characters from his works, both familiar favourites and other lesser-known colourful caricatures of Victorian life from his works.

Peppered throughout the show are lively musical numbers, so the audience is ensured plenty of sing-along opportunities and humour.

A Dickens of A Christmas features a refreshing mix of new faces and experienced performers. Its cast allows for the diversity of the Grassington Players membership to shine through, from children as young as eight, through talented teenagers, to senior members of the company who have been with the Players since the 1960s.

Spanning the generations; with one grandma and grandson performing together, the show promises to be a triumph of Grassington talent as well as a tribute to the life of one of England’s most celebrated authors.

Tickets are available from Grassington Hub on 01756 752222 for the production on Saturday 1, Saturday 8 and Thursday 13 December on the main stage at The Devonshire Institute (Town Hall) in Grassington at 8pm.

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