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'A Christmas Carol' returns to Merchant's House for annual performance

John Kevin Jones stars as Charles Dickens in holiday show.

John Kevin Jones stars in "A Christmas Carol"

John Kevin Jones stars in "A Christmas Carol" at the Merchant's House. Photo Credit: Photo by Joey Stocks/Joey Stocks

As the holidays come into full swing, the Merchant’s House Museum is premiering a sixth season of one of its most treasured traditions.

"A Christmas Carol," performed by John Kevin Jones, began this week at the landmarked museum at 29 E. Fourth St. in Manhattan . Jones portrays Charles Dickens visiting New York City in 1867 as the author performs a reading of his classic novella originally published in 1843.

“I just always try to bring the words into modern parlance, at the same time maintaining its historical relevance and influence,” Jones said. “I try not to recite. … I try to make it so that this is all in the moment, I’m bringing it all together as we move through.

“It gives that sense of discovery as we move through it and so audiences feel like they’ve never heard that story before,” he added.

The one-hour performance is held in the Greek Revival double parlor of Merchant’s House, built in 1832. The building was designated as one of New York City’s first landmarks in 1965 and in 1981, the interior was also designated as a landmark site. Jones said the historic parlor sets the stage well for his performance of "A Christmas Carol."

“That space adds so much to the words," he said. "The two things come together and  . . . it's greater than the sum of its parts.”

The one-man show is directed by  Rhonda Dodd and produced by the Summoners Ensemble Theatre, in association with the museum. Jones, who collaborated with Dodd to develop the production when it began six years ago, said the show has become a part of his personal identity.

“I do love telling the story and I love the idea that people are able to come and learn something about themselves, about others, about empathy, about sharing and the real spirit of giving, the real spirit of Christmas,” Jones said. “And that gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”

A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House started Tuesday night and runs through Dec. 29, Tuesdays through Sundays. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, preshow tickets can be purchased for a discussion with "Dickens" over traditional Dickensian Christmas fare such as mulled wine and mince pies. There will also be Victorian carolers on Dec. 23 and 24. Go to merchantshouse.org for tickets — regular performances are $30-$105 and preshow tickets cost $30.

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