A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Monday December 12, 2016

The Summoners Ensemble Theatre teams up with the historic Merchant's House Museum to present the holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol at the Merchant House." And although the show is sold out through the end of the run, you'll want to put this winsome event -- and a visit to the historic museum -- on your bucket list.

The Merchant's House is New York City's only mid-19th century home preserved virtually intact, with original family furnishings and personal belongings. Upon entering the Greenwich Village home, you'll be escorted into the first-floor Greek Revival parlor, which can accommodate a cozy crowd of 50 people.

It is tastefully decorated with a simple Christmas tree, and boughs of seasonal greens and holly on the mantelpiece and swagged upon the walls. The room features an original cut-glass chandelier with chains to lower and light its lamps. The mantle features four more cut-glass lanterns, with gay dangling finials.

Sumptuous red brocade curtains with big decorative tassels line the front windows facing the street, and red brocade sofas and armchairs flank the tree and the hearth.

Our host and performer John Kevin Jones is outfitted in a similar red brocade vest. This talented co-adaptor of the classic story (along with Director Dr. Rhonda Dodd) has a clear love of the classic "A Christmas Carol" text, and relays the tale flawlessly in his one-hour, intermissionless performance.

But to simply call this a 'reading' would be a gross understatement. Jones brings this timeworn story of greed and redemption to life via his animated acting and careful touches.

He growls appropriately when speaking Ebenezer Scrooge's lines, and kowtows as his 'clark' Bob Cratchit. Jones adds a girlish lilt to his voice when he vocalizes as Mrs. Cratchit, and adds a Cockney brogue to the patter of Scrooge's laundress as she sells the dead man's bedclothes to the rag and bone man.

Now in its fourth year, this spirited rendition of "A Christmas Carol" has quickly become an instant holiday classic. If you're lucky enough to have gotten your tickets already, get there on time, as the performances start promptly.

Also be sure to dress warmly, as The Merchant's House doesn't come equipped with the modern conveniences of central heating. In fact, the museum offers an exhibition on the whole matter, "Winter Warmth: How the Tredwells Bundled Up," opening January 19.

If you weren't able to get tickets for this year's performance, put it on your list for next year. And in the meantime, visit The Merchant's House's exhibitions, like their "Christmas Comes to Old New York: Holiday Traditions of the Tredwell Family," running through January 9.

Or better yet, learn more about Greenwich Village by joining one of their walking tours, such as "Life at Home in Old New York," "A Walking Tour of Historic 19th Century Noho," or their chilling "Candlelight Ghost Tour."

There are many renditions of "A Christmas Carol" available for your purview; Jones confided to me that "A Muppets Christmas Carol" ranked among his personal favorites. But the original is always the gold standard, so catch it here while the holidays are upon us.

"A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House" runs through December 24 at The Merchant House, 29 E. 4th Street in NYC. For information, call 212-777-1089 or visit http://www.summonersensemble.org/a-christmas-carol-at-the-merchants-house.html

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.