SD1: A finely dressed gentleman steps onstage and speaks to the audience.
Marley: It is Christmas Eve in London, England, and I, Jacob Marley, am as dead as a doornail. I’ve been dead for seven years, in fact.
SD2: Lights rise on a door that says “Scrooge & Marley, Accountants.”
Marley: This is a story about my business partner, Ebenezer Scrooge.
SD3: The door lifts away to reveal a gloomy office. A white-haired man sits at a large desk counting money.
Scrooge: Sixty-five, sixty-six, sixty-seven . . .
Marley: This is Ebenezer Scrooge. His cheeks are as withered as his soul.
SD1: Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, sits at a tiny desk, shivering.
Cratchit: Mr. Scrooge, may I add some coal to the fire?
Scrooge: Absolutely not! Coal costs money.
SD2: Marley shakes his head and sighs. Then he exits.
SD3: Fred comes bounding in, his eyes sparkling.
Fred: Merry Christmas, Uncle!
Scrooge: Bah! Humbug! What reason have you to be merry? You’re not wealthy.
Fred: What reason have you to be morose—you, with all your riches?
Scrooge: Bah! What is Christmas but a time for spending money without making any? Every fool who goes about saying “Merry Christmas” should be boiled in his own pudding.
Scrooge: What good has Christmas ever done you?
Fred: Many things do us good without making us rich. Though holidays never put a scrap of gold in my pocket, I believe I am all the better for having celebrated them.
Cratchit (clapping ): Here, here!
Scrooge: Quiet, Cratchit, or you’ll celebrate Christmas by looking for a new job!
Fred: Have Christmas dinner with us tomorrow, Uncle.
Fred: Why not?
Scrooge: That’s enough! Good day, Nephew.
Fred: So be it. I shall be on my way. Merry Christmas, Uncle! Merry Christmas, Mr. Cratchit!
Cratchit: And a happy new year!
Scrooge (muttering ): Bah! My clerk, with barely enough to feed his family, and a sickly child too, talking about a happy new year.
SD1: The town clock chimes five. Cratchit stands expectantly, clutching his thin coat and hat.
Scrooge: I suppose you’ll want tomorrow off.
Cratchit (hanging his head): Yes, sir.
Scrooge: And you expect me to pay you for a day when you’re not working?
Cratchit: Christmas comes but once a year.
Scrooge: Take the day, but you’d better be here even earlier the next morning.