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Last updated: June 10, 2019

'A Christmas Carol'

Radio play script, music & sound effects

Perfect for the 2019 Christmas season!

Live (on-stage) 'Christmas Carol' radio drama with Tony Palermo directs Theater 40 SFX artists while Michael Gough plays Scrooge
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 42-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  SFX "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.


'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:

EBENEZER SCROOGE

Miserly old man (male)

THE NARRATOR

Narrator (male or female)

MARLEY'S GHOST

Spirit of Scrooge's partner (Male or Female)

SECOND SPIRIT

Ghost Of Christmas Present- Jovial spirit (M/F)

FIRST SPIRIT

Ghost Of Christmas Past - Old/Young Spirit ((M/F)

NEPHEW FRED

Scrooge's kind nephew (male)

BELLE

Scrooge's young fiancee (female)

BOB CRATCHIT

Scrooge's meek clerk (male)

MRS. CRATCHIT

Bob's kind/feisty wife (female)

POOLE

Charity Seeker (M/F)

LAMB

Charity Seeker (M/F)

FAN

Scrooge's young sister (girl)

KATE

Nephew Fred's wife (female)

TINY TIM CRATCHIT`

Bob's crippled young son (M/F)

PETER CRATCHIT

Bob's 12 year-old son (M/F)

MARTHA CRATCHIT

Bob's 15 year-old daughter (M/F)

BELINDA CRATCHIT

Bob's 9 year-old daughter (M/F)

GUESTS #1, #2, #3

(3) of Fred party guests (M/F)

OLD JOE

Rag and bottle shop owner (M/F)

CHARWOMAN

Coarse cleaning lady (female)

MRS. DILBER

Lower class laundress (female)

BUCK

Street urchin (male or female)

BUSINESSMAN #1, 2, 3

(3) Greedy businessmen (M/F)

BOY CAROLER

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

  1. Holiday Playhouse theme (plays under narration) [1:09]
  2. Boy Carolers singing--then cut-off as Scrooge yells 'Bah Humbug!' [0:21]
  3. Foggy Night [1:10]
  4. Marley's Woe [3:05]
  5. The Phantoms [0:54]
  6. Spirit #1 Arrives [0:15]
  7. Christmas Past [2:35]
  8. Fezziwig's Ball [1:15]
  9. Belle's Music Box [1:27]
  10. Return to Bed [0:11]
  11. Spirit #2 arrives [1:02]
  12. Christmas Present/Cratchit Home #1 [1:40]
  13. Christmas Montage - "All around the world" [0:55]
  14. Spirit #3 Arrives [1:16]
  15. Cratchit Home #2 [1:09]
  16. Graveyard Sequence [1:26]
  17. Church Bell Cacophony [1:26]
  18. Christmas Day in London [1:00]
  19. Nephew Fred's Party [0:47]
  20. "Uncle Scrooge!" Toast [0:08]
  21. God Bless Us [1:02]
  22. Outro - Curtain call [0:54]

NOTE: 'Christmas Carol' music tracks are ALSO 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

Many manual sound effects are performed live in Tony Palermo's radio drama 'Christmas Carol'

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

  1. Cash-boxes
  2. Door creaking open
  3. Forks on plates, glasses clink for a toast
  4. Wind chime - for ghostly transitions
  5. Footsteps & sneaky footsteps
  6. Punch being ladled out
  7. Footsteps in Snow
  8. Several different hand bells
  9. Spoon servings on plates, Spoon raps on table
  10. Knocking on door
  11. Tinkling bell - for Scrooge's office door
  12. Dinner plates being rattled, set on table
  13. Horses
  14. Jingle bells
  15. Bob Cratchit's meek hand clapping
  16. Dancing feet

SFX listed below CAN be done mechanically live, but are easier via my pre-recorded tracks (MP3s)

  1. Wind - (either live wind-machine or pre-recorded track)
  2. Office clock chime - several cues (striking 7X, 9X)
  3. Several different doors closing and locks locking
  4. Cymbal rolls - for Ghost's time-travel transitions (6 cues)
  5. "Every bell in the house ringing"--then stopping
  6. Horse-driven coach - boys heading home for Christmas
  7. Crashing and bashing of Marley's Ghost
  8. Thunder (3 cues)
  9. Scrooge's clock chimes 1X
  10. Blindman's Buff crashes (3 cues)
  11. Otherworldly 'voice' of Spirit #3 - [9 different "lines")
  12. Graveyard Sequence, timed to dialogue (Wind, Thunder crashes, Spirit #3 replies)

Full list of all 32 pre-recorded sound effect tracks (from my 'Carol' script appendix) [1-page PDF]

NOTE: 'Christmas Carol' sound effects tracks are ALSO for sale to troupes who are NOT using my script.

    To order just the 32 pre-recorded 'Christmas Carol' SOUND EFFECTS tracks--without licensing my radio play, contact:


TONY PALERMO is a radio playwright, professional sound effects artist, radio director, composer, and educator based in Los Angeles, California.

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