'A Christmas Carol'
Radio-play script, music & sound effects
Perfect for the 2022-23 Christmas season!
Radio drama writer/director Tony Palermo "conducts" SFX crew while Scrooge rages!
Every Christmas, many people across the world license my radio "Carol" script and score for productions ranging from broadcast down to elementary schools. Here is detailed information about the play, the various versions, the cast, sound effects, and music. The performance royalty I charge is based upon the venue (school, stage, recording, or broadcast) and the number of performance you'll give.
There are three versions of this show--a full-story 60-minute version, a simpler 40-minute version and a 30-minute version, trimmed for tight time-slot limits.
The script comes with a 48-page appendix: How to Produce 'Christmas Carol' as a Radio-on-Stage Show detailing everything from thematic approaches, to casting monologues, a live sound effects "cookbook", pre-recorded track listings (for music and certain, difficult SFX), and audio gear resources, right down to instructions for "how to work a microphone". Additionally, there's a history of how radio-on-stage shows were produced in the Golden Age of 1940s and how you can blend the various presentation styles to fit your troupe's resources and likings
TO ORDER: Contact me at and tell me about your intended production. I deliver the script via e-mail as a PDF file, and the pre-recorded music cues and pre-recorded sound effects tracks can be downloaded as MP3 files. The live sound effects (bells, plates, footsteps, etc.) are up to you to assemble, but my script has a "Sound Effects Cookbook" section explaining how to make each sound using items you can find in your town.
'A Christmas Carol' as a radio drama
Tony Palermo's very faithful radio drama adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story of Christmas, memory, and redemption. The dialogue is verbatim Dickens. This adaptation has been performed and recorded by Hollywood professionals, radio stations, community theatre troupes, colleges, high schools and elementary students across the world. This richly imaginative work is particularly well-suited to the medium of radio, but it also goes over well as a live-on-stage performance--one which doesn't require costumes, sets or memorization. The manual sound effects (mostly doors, bells, chains and thunder and walla walla) always fascinate live audiences.
This script is true to Dickens language and theme. It also boasts authentic orchestral pre-recorded music tracks of Victorian Christmas carols and spooky ghost music. The instrumentation is brass choir, pipe and reed organs, hand bells, church bells, chimes, cymbals, timpani, fiddle, concertina, music-box, wine glasses (glass harmonica), choirs and strings.
Additionally, pre-recorded sound effects are available for the more unusual sounds: wintry winds, Scrooge's bells and clocks chiming the various hours called for in the script, Marley's thunder and ghostly bashing, transitional cues of cymbals and chimes and the otherworldly screech of the Ghost of Christmas Future as it 'replies' to Scrooge's many questions. Please note that sounds generated by the characters, such as doors, Marley dragging his cashboxes, noisy crowds bustling around Scrooge, toasts, plates & forks and two instances of jingling bells under the narration are not part of the pre-recorded collection. They are intended to be done live by the sound effects crew in coordination with the actors as they perform.
Changes of gender for characters is permitted as is trimming lines and even whole scenes. While the show makes use of pre-recorded music for scene transitions and as dramatic underscoring, this is not a Broadway-style musical. However, it is possible to employ a choir to serve within scenes as the poor child carolers dispelled by Scrooge and as Marley's colleagues, the moaning phantoms. You can choose to insert carolers at Nephew Fred's parties, the Cratchit household and elsewhere.
Free 'Christmas Carol' Radio Play script sample, audio clip, production notes
Here's downloadable 'Christmas Carol' radio play script sample (the 60-minute version), including scene a truncated excerpt of the 40-page "How to Produce 'Christmas Carol' as a Live Radio Play--On-Stage" appendix:
SCRIPT SAMPLE - Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' - RADIO DRAMA - TRUNCATED [PDF]
You can view/print the sample radio script PDF with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program, which works for PCs, Macs, and Android devices.
Free, downloadable MP3 clip of the iconic "Scrooge & Marley" scene from my 'Carol' adaptation - employing voices, music and sound effects:
MP3 - 'Christmas Carol' Radio Play - 'Scrooge & Marley' scene
Detailed information about how I've approached Dickens' themes and characters in my adaptation, plus suggestions for your production. From my script's 42-page appendix:
Tony Palermo's extensive notes on How to Produce 'A Christmas Carol' as a radio drama.
'Christmas Carol' Cast size:
Here's the cast listing from the 60 and 40 minute versions. The 30 minute version uses 3 less characters, but also cuts down on everyone's lines. Throughout the play, are never more than 5 characters in a scene, so a small cast can easily perform the entire show. However, you can employ anywhere from 8 to 28 actors.
Maximum: 7 men, 7 women, 10 men-OR-women, and
optionally, 2 boys and 2 girls (but those roles can be handled by women--as in
the golden age of radio.)
With doubling of roles, this show has been done with only 8 actors (4 men, 3 women, 1 boy). The script's 42-page appendix has suggestions about doubling roles.
Without doubling any roles, the cast list is as follows:
Miserly old man (male)
Narrator (male or female)
Spirit of Scrooge's partner (Male or Female)
Ghost Of Christmas Present- Jovial spirit (M/F)
Ghost Of Christmas Past - Old/Young Spirit ((M/F)
Scrooge's kind nephew (male)
Scrooge's young fiancee (female)
Scrooge's meek clerk (male)
Bob's kind/feisty wife (female)
Charity Seeker (M/F)
Charity Seeker (M/F)
Scrooge's young sister (girl)
Nephew Fred's wife (female)
TINY TIM CRATCHIT`
Bob's crippled young son (M/F)
Bob's 12 year-old son (M/F)
Bob's 15 year-old daughter (M/F)
Bob's 9 year-old daughter (M/F)
GUESTS #1, #2, #3
(3) of Fred party guests (M/F)
Rag and bottle shop owner (M/F)
Coarse cleaning lady (female)
Lower class laundress (female)
Street urchin (male or female)
MERCHANTS #1, 2, 3
(3) Greedy businessmen (M/F)
Poor street caroler (M/F)
Pre-Recorded Underscore Music Tracks to accompany your production of 'A Christmas Carol'
Twenty-two pre-recorded, orchestral music cues serve for scene changes and to dramatically underscore the dialogue at various points. This is NOT a Broadway style musical, with a singing Scrooge or Tiny Tim. The music cues I provide function the way film scores do--to support and color the drama. The instrumentation is strictly Victorian: brass choir, pipe and reed organs, hand bells, church bells, chimes, cymbals, timpani, fiddle, concertina, music-box, wine glasses (glass harmonica), choirs and strings. This musical underscore adds greatly to the production.
The 36 minutes of 'Christmas Carol' dramatic underscore music cues are downloadable MP3 files--NOT audio CDs
- Holiday Playhouse theme (plays under narration) [1:09]
- Boy Carolers singing--then cut-off as Scrooge yells 'Bah Humbug!' [0:21]
- Foggy Night [1:10]
- Marley's Woe [3:05]
- The Phantoms [0:54]
- Spirit #1 Arrives [0:15]
- Christmas Past [2:35]
- Fezziwig's Ball [1:15]
- Belle's Music Box [1:27]
- Return to Bed [0:11]
- Spirit #2 arrives [1:02]
- Christmas Present/Cratchit Home #1 [1:40]
- Christmas Montage - "All around the world" [0:55]
- Spirit #3 Arrives [1:16]
- Cratchit Home #2 [1:09]
- Graveyard Sequence [1:26]
- Church Bell Cacophony [1:26]
- Christmas Day in London [1:00]
- Nephew Fred's Party [0:47]
- "Uncle Scrooge!" Toast [0:08]
- God Bless Us [1:02]
- Outro - Curtain call [0:54]
NOTE: 'Christmas Carol' music tracks are for sale to troupes who are NOT using my script.
To order just the 22 pre-recorded 'Christmas Carol' MUSIC tracks, contact:
Live and Pre-Recorded Sound Effects for 'A Christmas Carol' - radio drama or stage-play
The following list of sounds can be all manual, or a mix of pre-recorded and manual SFX. In this show, a team of sound effects artists work as an ensemble. This show could be handled by anywhere from 2-4 sound effects performers. The whole show with 8 actors who also double on live sound effects, as you can see in the photo here.
Several sound effects (indicated below) are available on 32 pre-recorded tracks--12-minutes' worth--which you can download.
All other sounds are to be done live by SFX crew or actors.
'Christmas Carol' Sound Effect listing
The first 16 are to be done live, in coordination with the actors
- Door creaking open
- Forks on plates, glasses clink for a toast
- Wind chime - for ghostly transitions
- Footsteps & sneaky footsteps
- Punch being ladled out
- Footsteps in Snow
- Several different hand bells
- Spoon servings on plates, Spoon raps on table
- Knocking on door
- Tinkling bell - for Scrooge's office door
- Dinner plates being rattled, set on table
- Jingle bells
- Bob Cratchit's meek hand clapping
- Dancing feet
SFX listed below CAN be done mechanically live, but are easier via my pre-recorded tracks (MP3s)
- Wind - (either live wind-machine or pre-recorded track)
- Office clock chime - several cues (striking 7X, 9X)
- Several different doors closing and locks locking
- Cymbal rolls - for Ghost's time-travel transitions (6 cues)
- "Every bell in the house ringing"--then stopping
- Horse-driven coach - boys heading home for Christmas
- Crashing and bashing of Marley's Ghost
- Thunder (3 cues)
- Scrooge's clock chimes 1X
- Blindman's Buff crashes (3 cues)
- Otherworldly 'voice' of Spirit #3 - [9 different "lines")
- Graveyard Sequence, timed to dialogue (Wind, Thunder crashes, Spirit #3 replies)