By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Five years after he made his stage debut as Belle’s Baby in “A Christmas Carol,” Dashiell Henrici is ready to take his career to the next level.
“A few months ago, he announced he was going to be an actor,” said his mother, Danielle. “And for this show, he was told to say the word ‘God’ like you have a hot dog in your mouth, so he walked around teaching everyone.”
Dashiell plays Tiny Tim – with the single line “God bless us, every one,” in the full-cast audiobook of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” presented by the Fenimore Art Museum’s Glimmer Globe Theatre, and The Farmers’ Museum’s Templeton Players, now available to stream for free on the Fenimore Art Museum’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
“’A Christmas Carol’ is a yearly tradition for so many people in this area,” said Mike Tamburrino, manager of the performing arts programs at the museum. “We wanted to find a way to bring it to people in a new, meaningful way that would keep everybody safe.”
The book is in the public domain, but Tamburrino noticed that there were very few full-cast productions of the original text.
“Everyone knows the story, but not as many people have sat down and read the original text,” he said.
He built a small, single-person recording studio in the NYSHA library for each of the 30 actors, including Michael Henrici returning as Ebenezer Scrooge, to record their sections.
“It’s not like doing a normal stage show,” said Michael. “Because we’re going back to the original text, there’s less room for interpretation. If it reads ‘Scrooge said dryly,’ that’s how I have to read the line.”
“I had disagreements with Dickens in how a line might be delivered,” said Danielle, who returns as Belle. “But who am I to argue with Charles Dickens?”
However, the original text allowed them to present scenes that are too elaborate to be put on stage. “In the Christmas present scene, Scrooge and the Ghost are traveling over oceans,” said Michael. “There are more descriptive events, rather than dialogue, and Dickens has all these wonderful digressions in his narrative.”
In addition to the reading, there are sound effects and music by pianist Rob Montecalvo and fiddler player B.J. Baker, as well as the original John Leech illustrations. The cover is a tin-type photograph of Michael, in his Scrooge makeup and costume, by Kevin Q. Gray, and the pages – the text will also be on screen – feature borders taken from the Print Shop in the Historic Village.
The audiobook will debut on the Fenimore’s Facebook page in a live-streaming format, then be available on YouTube, with chapter features in case listeners need to pause or want to skip ahead.
The stream will be free throughout the holidays, then available for sale in January, with proceeds benefiting the museum.
“I’ve had people tell me they’re going to listen to it while wrapping presents,” said Michael.
Depending on the feedback, Michael said, there could be future audiobooks. “I know it’s something Mike has wanted to do more of,” he said.
And they all hope to return to the stage next year.
“It means a lot to all of us that our production has become part of a local tradition,” Danielle said. “And that we can still do this, in spite of everything that’s happening this year, it’s as much a gift to us as it is to everyone else.”