A Musical by Fraser Charlton

Based on the words of Charles Dickens, the works of Gilbert & Sullivan & Traditional Carols

There are several excellent versions of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' that use the music of Gilbert & Sullivan – 'A Gilbert & Sullivan Christmas Carol' by Gayden Wren, 'A Savoy Christmas Carol' by Nigel Holloway and 'Humbugg' by J. K. Local and R. W. Tyler. However, none of them were quite right for the sort of staging that I had in mind, which was a semi-concert version in two acts, requiring minimal rehearsal, so I decided to write one myself! I wanted a version that had a narrator, meaning that dialogue could be kept to a minimum, no sets and a chorus that could sing from books - in other words a show that could be performed with a short rehearsal period and in any performing space. I also wanted to follow Dickens story as much as possible, with his plot and his words (many of the most well known adaptations take considerable liberties). While musing on these requirements, I hit on the idea of incorporating several of my favourite Christmas carols into the piece, and making the chorus explicitly into carol singers that, in a sense, comment on the action. The carols chosen can be done in any arrangement you prefer, and could also be sung by the audience, thus making a combined show and carol service.

I wish to acknowledge the influence of the other versions of 'A Christmas Carol' on the choice of songs, although I have written my own lyrics. The editing of the text largely follows the version of 'A Christmas Carol' that Dickens used in his celebrated public readings.

So: Dickens, carols, Gilbert and Sullivan - the perfect ingredients for a Christmas show. I hope you enjoy it!

Download the full script of Humbug! (MS Word format).
Download the full piano vocal score of Humbug! (MS Powerpoint format).


Dramatis Personae

  • Narrator - SPEAKING
  • Scrooge - BARITONE
  • Bob Cratchit - NON-SINGING
  • Fred - TENOR
  • Bess - SOPRANO
  • Mr. Hope - BARITONE
  • Mrs. Charity - CONTRALTO
  • Jacob Marley - BASS
  • Ghost of Christmas Past - SOPRANO
  • Mr Fezziwig - BASS
  • Belle - SOPRANO
  • Young Scrooge - TENOR
  • Ghost of Christmas Present - BARITONE
  • Mrs Cratchit - CONTRALTO
  • Peter Cratchit - SPEAKING
  • Belinda Cratchit - SPEAKING
  • Martha - SPEAKING
  • Tiny Tim - SPEAKING
  • Clara - CONTRALTO
  • Topper - BARITONE
  • Ignorance (boy) - SILENT
  • Want (girl) - SILENT
  • Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come - SILENT
  • Joe - BARITONE
  • Mrs. Dilber - CONTRALTO
  • Boy in Street - SPEAKING
These 24 parts need not be played by 24 principals. Obvious multiple parts which could be played by the same actor include: Marley & Fezziwig, Hope & Joe, Charity & Mrs Dilber, Fred & Young Scrooge, Bess & Belle, and Peter & Boy in Street.


We meet the miserly Scrooge and his clerk, Bob Cratchit, at his office. After declaring Christmas to be 'Humbug!' to his nephew and his wife, then refusing to give any money to two charity collectors, he returns home. There he meets the ghost of his late partner, and only friend, Jacob Marley, who warns that three spirits are coming to try and reform Scrooge. The first shortly arrives - the Ghost of Christmas Past, who shows Scrooge his place of apprenticeship on Christmas Eve, presided over by the genial Mr. Fezziwig. He is also shown the moment when his younger self parts from Belle, his fiancee. In the utmost of distress, Scrooge finds himself back in his own bed again.


Scrooge now meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, a jovial giant who shows him the festivites enjoyed by the poor Cratchits and his nephew. Scrooge begins to see the error of his ways - particularly when he meets the personification of 'Ignorance' and 'Want'

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appears - a deathly, silent figure who conducts him to a pawnshop, where a woman is selling the earthly possessions of a miser who died alone. Then he is transported to the Cratchits: but not to a happy occasion, as the family mourn the death of Tiny Tim. Finally, Scrooge sees the grave of the plundered man - none other than his own.

Finding himself back in his bed on Christas morning, Scrooge vows to change his ways. He sends a giant turkey to Bob Cratchit, and joins his nephew for Christmas dinner. Scrooge becomes a reformed character, famous for the enthusiasm with which he celebrates Christmas - Bob gets a raise, Tiny Tim does not die, and, overall, nothing could possible be more satisfactory!

2 Acts. Duration: 70 mins (excluding interval)



1. OPENING CAROL - "God rest ye merry, gentlemen"
2. SONG - "A pattern to professors" (The Grand Duke) - SCROOGE
3. DUET - "There once was a man" (The Mikado) - FRED & BESS
4. TRIO - "To what you state we make reply" (Haddon Hall) - HOPE, CHARITY & SCROOGE
5. CAROL - "In the bleak midwinter"
6. a. SONG - "Beware! Beware!" (Ruddigore) - MARLEY, SCROOGE & CHORUS
b. SONG - "When the night wind howls" (Ruddigore) - MARLEY & CHORUS
7. CHORUS - "Ebenezer!" (Iolanthe)
8. SONG - "Come away, come and walk with me" (Emerald Isle) - GHOST PAST & CHORUS
9. a. CHORUS - "Now to the banquet we press" (The Sorcerer)
b. RECIT. & SONG - "Be happy all" (The Sorcerer) - FEZZIWIG & CHORUS
10. DUET - "There was a time" (The Gondoliers) - BELLE & YOUNG SCROOGE
11. CAROL - "Ding dong merrily on high"


12. CAROL - "It came upon the midnight clear"
13. CHORUS - "Ebenezer!" (Iolanthe)
14. SONG - "For the merriest fellow am I" (The Gondoliers) - CHRISTMAS PRESENT & CHORUS
15. SONG - "Now hearken to my strict command" (Princess Ida) - MRS CRATCHIT & CHORUS
16. MADRIGAL - "When the budding bloom of May" (Haddon Hall) - BESS, TOPPER, CLARA & CHORUS
17. DUET - "Hoity-toity, what's a kiss?" (Haddon Hall) - TOPPER & CLARA
18. CHORUS - "Ebenezer!" (Iolanthe)
19. DUET - "Morning Joe, I hope you're well" (HMS Pinafore) - MRS. DILBER & JOE
20. CAROL - "Lully, lullay, thou little tiny Child"
21. DUET - "I've learned my lesson well" (Patience) - SCROOGE & MARLEY
22. QUINTET - "Uncle Scrooge has changed direction" (Patience) - FRED, SCROOGE, TOPPER, CLARA & BESS
22. FINAL CAROL - "Hark! the herald angels sing"


Information about producing 'Humbug!'

If you are interested in producing this show, please contact fraser.charlton@ncl.ac.uk: I have piano-vocal scores and production videos available for all of my shows. I don't charge any royalties for performances - simply a copy of all promotional material, a video/DVD of your production and any reviews you get!