Young Charles Dickens

Year(s) Produced: 2015, 2016
His story began long before A Christmas Carol...

About Young Charles Dickens

Just in time for the holidays! Before he became a famous writer, Charles Dickens was a typical 12-year-old boy with a gift for telling stories. But it wasn’t until he had to spend a year supporting his family, working on Christmas Eve, that he realized just how important his stories could be. Based on the true story of Charles Dickens’s childhood, Young Charles Dickens is the uplifting story of how one of the most famous writers of all time found his calling.

Show Credits

Book & Lyrics by Barbara Zinn Krieger
Music by Charles Greenberg
2015 Production Directed by Josh Penzell
2016 Production Directed by Andrew Frank

Based on the book “A BOY CALLED DICKENS”
Written by Deborah Hopkinson
With illustrations by John Hendrix

Starring:

  • Elaine Cotter (2016)
  • Jared Howelton (2016)
  • Kyle Huey (2016)
  • Cameron Mullin (2016)
  • Nick Sacks (2016)
  • Joseph Bach (2015)
  • Ryan Borses (2015)
  • Bryson Bruce (2015)
  • Eryn LeCroy (2015)
  • Vinnie Urdea (2015)

What Audiences are Saying about Young Charles Dickens

Earnest and Evocative

Young theatergoers, however, don’t have to have read Dickens to enjoy this earnest and often evocative family show.

Charlie Greenberg, the show’s accomplished composer, has written music with somber and stirring undertones for the transition to Charles’s stint as a child laborer, and music-hall-style numbers for lighter moments. One teasing song, “Master Fancy Pants,” directed at Charles, particularly tickled children at a recent performance.

As Sue, Bob Fagin’s streetwise but tenderhearted sister — a figure invented by Ms. Krieger and deftly played by Eryn LeCroy— sings another rousing tune, “The Idle Rich,” she may remind you of Nancy in “Oliver Twist.”

Bryson Bruce is exceptional as the determinedly cheerful Bob, and Ryan Borses brings vulnerability and passion to Charles, who finds his salvation in inventing stories.

While words wouldn’t feed the hungry or clothe the poor, “Young Charles Dickens” shows that they were sustenance, too.

— Laurel Graeber, The New York Times
One of the Best Holiday Shows for Families!

Just in time for the Holidays! Before he became a famous writer, Charles Dickens was a typical 12-year-old boy with a gift for telling stories. But it wasn’t until he had to spend a year supporting his family, working on Christmas Eve, that he realized just how important his stories could be. Based on the true story of Charles Dickens’s childhood, Young Charles Dickens is the uplifting story of how one of the most famous writers of all time found his calling.

— Mommy Nearest
Engaging Bio-Musical

However, even school-age kids unfamiliar with his work will pick up a lot from this gritty, but heartwarming tale.

The songs, by Charlie Greenberg and NYC Children’s Theater founder Barbara Zinn Krieger, are simple and sweet. There’s plenty of welcome humor as the boys make the best of their circumstances, even putting on a show of sorts for passersby as they work.

In addition to celebrating the power of imagination, Young Charles Dickens encourages kids to be socially conscious and treat everyone regardless of class, race or other differences with respect and empathy.

The historically inaccurate but smart colorblind casting drives that message home.

— Raven Snook, Mommy Poppins 
This Show was Unforgettable!

I just saw Young Charles Dickens with my two grandchildren.  The show was terrific.  The story was fast moving and compelling; the music and singing enhanced the show; the script was amazing — so many wonderful, memorable lines. The acting was terrific. I have seen many shows for children, but this show and its message about impoverishment and the power of storytelling was unforgettable!

— NYC Grandma
My Granddaughters Were Thrilled!

Young Charles Dickens was an excellent production. The interactions between the cast and audience at the conclusion was terrific. My granddaughters were thrilled!

— NYC Grandpa
This will be Quite a Memory!

I purchased tickets to NYCCT’s Young Charles Dickens with the hope of making the man behind the indelible characters and strong social messages come alive.  The fine acting, score, choreography, intimate setting, and clever set design did the trick.  As enthralled as I was with the performance, I peeked often at my children’s faces as they watched the stage, their eyes alert and facial expressions animated.  The conversations we had about the play on the way home and in the days afterward have been meaningful and thought-provoking, and my 10-year-old son and I were inspired to begin volunteering at a local soup kitchen.  This was our first NYCCT experience and our family is committed to supporting NYCCT in the future.  Thank you for making the nuances of all that goes into theater production resonate for my son and daughter, and for helping to teach them about one of the world’s most important writers in a most poignant way. This will be quite a memory!

— NYC Dad
Dazzled by the Magic of Theater

We all really enjoyed the show. It was the kids first more serious piece of theater (ages 6,8 and 9). I was a little worried as the story unfolded how they would react, but they really enjoyed learning about a different time period and some of the challenges people had back then. My youngest one really enjoyed seeing how the actors played all the different characters and all the quick costume changes. He was pretty dazzled by the magic of theater. Please thank the cast for the talk back. It was thrilling for the kids to get to see the actors in their street clothes and ask questions. The actors were so open spirited with their answers and generous with their time.

— NYC Mom
The Story Was Inspirational!

My son, his friend, and I had a terrific time on Saturday! The cast of Young Charles Dickens were fantastic and the story was inspirational. Moreover, the theater was intimate and just right for the boys who are nine years old. We will definitely return soon.

— NYC Mom
My Girls Looked Up All of His Stories

“My girls LOVED  Young Charles Dickens…so much that they got home and looked up all of his stories. ‘Now I understand how he came up with the story of Scrooge. He really was brilliant. He loved stories!’ said my 9 year old. The story was very easy to follow and the cast was so engaging and welcoming. They were great about taking pictures with the kids after the show! Thanks so much!!!”

— NYC Mom
We’re on Playbill!

In Playbill’s “Ultimate Guide to New York City’s Holiday Shows, Concerts, Cabaret’s and Merriment”, our holiday musical Young Charles Dickens makes it the go-to family theatre show for the season! Don’t forget to see our inspiring story of the famous English author in the spotlight at Theater 3!

— Playbill
10 Holiday Shows You Can Only See in NYC!

Our friends at Mommy Nearest have included us on their list of 10 Holiday Shows You Can Only See in NYC! We’re so thrilled to be on the list among so many of our friends and collaborators including The Laurie Berkner Band and The New Victory Theater!

Based on the book A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkins, this play takes the audience into the life of a 12-year-old Charles Dickens. Best for children eight and up, the uplifting story seeks to tell the importance of storytelling and show how one of the greatest authors of all time found his calling. You can see this magical tale from December 3 to 18. 

— Mommy Nearest
We’re on American Theatre’s List of Holiday Shows!

We are so grateful that American Theatre included both of our holiday shows: Ballerina Swan and the Nutcracker & Young Charles Dickens on their list of 16 Holiday Shows for Children and Families! How exciting! The shows are playing through December 18th so come check them out!

If you can look beyond ‘A Christmas Carol,’ these festive family shows prove there are plenty of ways to deck the halls.

New York City Children’s Theater (Nov. 26 – Dec. 18) will produce a companion piece to 2013’s Ballerina Swan. This world premiere blends dance and puppetry as Sophie the Swan prepares for her first performance in The Nutcracker. Michael McGowan choreographs, and the characters are inspired by Allegra Kent’s book Ballerina Swan.

This musical prequel to A Christmas Carol will get a reworked production from New York City Children’s Theater Dec. 2-18, following last year’s world premiere. Based on actual events, Young Charles Dickens recounts the Christmas that 12-year-old Dickens spent working in a factory and developing his social conscious. Andrew Frank directs the musical, which has book and lyrics by artistic director Barbara Zinn Krieger and music by Charlie Greenberg.

— American Theatre
Two of the Best Holiday Shows for NYC Kids

Mommy Poppins just named Ballerina Swan and the Nutcracker & Young Charles Dickens as two of the best holiday shows for NYC Kids! Thank you, Mommy Poppins, for always supporting our work!

Ballerina Swan & The Nutcracker — Midtown West
Saturday, November 26-Sunday, December 18
Ages 3-8
A sequel to New York City Children’s Theater’s hit Ballerina Swan (inspired by NYC Ballet prima ballerina Allegra Kent’s children’s book of the same name), this show finds the dance-obsessed Sophie the Swan prepping for her debut in The Nutcracker. This 50-minute world premiere fuses ballet and puppetry for a lyrical, fast-paced experience that’s perfect for young children.

Young Charles Dickens – Midtown West
Friday, December 2-Sunday, December 18
Ages 8 and older
Another high-quality tuner from New York City Children’s Theater. This bio-musical about the challenging childhood of the famed Victorian author is inspired by Deborah Hopkinson’s picture book A Boy Called Dickens. An engaging mix of fact and fiction, the tuner had its world premiere last year, and we really loved it. Now the show’s back for an encore run, with some tweaks to the story, a new cast, and a few fresh songs. Find out how this talented young storyteller was forever changed when he was forced to spend a year (including Christmas Eve!) working to support his struggling family. Who knew A Christmas Carol was semiautobiographical?

— Mommy Poppins
Earnest and Evocative

Young theatergoers, however, don’t have to have read Dickens to enjoy this earnest and often evocative family show.

Charlie Greenberg, the show’s accomplished composer, has written music with somber and stirring undertones for the transition to Charles’s stint as a child laborer, and music-hall-style numbers for lighter moments. One teasing song, “Master Fancy Pants,” directed at Charles, particularly tickled children at a recent performance.

As Sue, Bob Fagin’s streetwise but tenderhearted sister — a figure invented by Ms. Krieger and deftly played by Eryn LeCroy— sings another rousing tune, “The Idle Rich,” she may remind you of Nancy in “Oliver Twist.”

Bryson Bruce is exceptional as the determinedly cheerful Bob, and Ryan Borses brings vulnerability and passion to Charles, who finds his salvation in inventing stories.

While words wouldn’t feed the hungry or clothe the poor, “Young Charles Dickens” shows that they were sustenance, too.

— Laurel Graeber, The New York Times
One of the Best Holiday Shows for Families!

Just in time for the Holidays! Before he became a famous writer, Charles Dickens was a typical 12-year-old boy with a gift for telling stories. But it wasn’t until he had to spend a year supporting his family, working on Christmas Eve, that he realized just how important his stories could be. Based on the true story of Charles Dickens’s childhood, Young Charles Dickens is the uplifting story of how one of the most famous writers of all time found his calling.

— Mommy Nearest
Engaging Bio-Musical

However, even school-age kids unfamiliar with his work will pick up a lot from this gritty, but heartwarming tale.

The songs, by Charlie Greenberg and NYC Children’s Theater founder Barbara Zinn Krieger, are simple and sweet. There’s plenty of welcome humor as the boys make the best of their circumstances, even putting on a show of sorts for passersby as they work.

In addition to celebrating the power of imagination, Young Charles Dickens encourages kids to be socially conscious and treat everyone regardless of class, race or other differences with respect and empathy.

The historically inaccurate but smart colorblind casting drives that message home.

— Raven Snook, Mommy Poppins 
This Show was Unforgettable!

I just saw Young Charles Dickens with my two grandchildren.  The show was terrific.  The story was fast moving and compelling; the music and singing enhanced the show; the script was amazing — so many wonderful, memorable lines. The acting was terrific. I have seen many shows for children, but this show and its message about impoverishment and the power of storytelling was unforgettable!

— NYC Grandma
My Granddaughters Were Thrilled!

Young Charles Dickens was an excellent production. The interactions between the cast and audience at the conclusion was terrific. My granddaughters were thrilled!

— NYC Grandpa
This will be Quite a Memory!

I purchased tickets to NYCCT’s Young Charles Dickens with the hope of making the man behind the indelible characters and strong social messages come alive.  The fine acting, score, choreography, intimate setting, and clever set design did the trick.  As enthralled as I was with the performance, I peeked often at my children’s faces as they watched the stage, their eyes alert and facial expressions animated.  The conversations we had about the play on the way home and in the days afterward have been meaningful and thought-provoking, and my 10-year-old son and I were inspired to begin volunteering at a local soup kitchen.  This was our first NYCCT experience and our family is committed to supporting NYCCT in the future.  Thank you for making the nuances of all that goes into theater production resonate for my son and daughter, and for helping to teach them about one of the world’s most important writers in a most poignant way. This will be quite a memory!

— NYC Dad
Dazzled by the Magic of Theater

We all really enjoyed the show. It was the kids first more serious piece of theater (ages 6,8 and 9). I was a little worried as the story unfolded how they would react, but they really enjoyed learning about a different time period and some of the challenges people had back then. My youngest one really enjoyed seeing how the actors played all the different characters and all the quick costume changes. He was pretty dazzled by the magic of theater. Please thank the cast for the talk back. It was thrilling for the kids to get to see the actors in their street clothes and ask questions. The actors were so open spirited with their answers and generous with their time.

— NYC Mom
The Story Was Inspirational!

My son, his friend, and I had a terrific time on Saturday! The cast of Young Charles Dickens were fantastic and the story was inspirational. Moreover, the theater was intimate and just right for the boys who are nine years old. We will definitely return soon.

— NYC Mom
My Girls Looked Up All of His Stories

“My girls LOVED  Young Charles Dickens…so much that they got home and looked up all of his stories. ‘Now I understand how he came up with the story of Scrooge. He really was brilliant. He loved stories!’ said my 9 year old. The story was very easy to follow and the cast was so engaging and welcoming. They were great about taking pictures with the kids after the show! Thanks so much!!!”

— NYC Mom
We’re on Playbill!

In Playbill’s “Ultimate Guide to New York City’s Holiday Shows, Concerts, Cabaret’s and Merriment”, our holiday musical Young Charles Dickens makes it the go-to family theatre show for the season! Don’t forget to see our inspiring story of the famous English author in the spotlight at Theater 3!

— Playbill
10 Holiday Shows You Can Only See in NYC!

Our friends at Mommy Nearest have included us on their list of 10 Holiday Shows You Can Only See in NYC! We’re so thrilled to be on the list among so many of our friends and collaborators including The Laurie Berkner Band and The New Victory Theater!

Based on the book A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkins, this play takes the audience into the life of a 12-year-old Charles Dickens. Best for children eight and up, the uplifting story seeks to tell the importance of storytelling and show how one of the greatest authors of all time found his calling. You can see this magical tale from December 3 to 18. 

— Mommy Nearest
We’re on American Theatre’s List of Holiday Shows!

We are so grateful that American Theatre included both of our holiday shows: Ballerina Swan and the Nutcracker & Young Charles Dickens on their list of 16 Holiday Shows for Children and Families! How exciting! The shows are playing through December 18th so come check them out!

If you can look beyond ‘A Christmas Carol,’ these festive family shows prove there are plenty of ways to deck the halls.

New York City Children’s Theater (Nov. 26 – Dec. 18) will produce a companion piece to 2013’s Ballerina Swan. This world premiere blends dance and puppetry as Sophie the Swan prepares for her first performance in The Nutcracker. Michael McGowan choreographs, and the characters are inspired by Allegra Kent’s book Ballerina Swan.

This musical prequel to A Christmas Carol will get a reworked production from New York City Children’s Theater Dec. 2-18, following last year’s world premiere. Based on actual events, Young Charles Dickens recounts the Christmas that 12-year-old Dickens spent working in a factory and developing his social conscious. Andrew Frank directs the musical, which has book and lyrics by artistic director Barbara Zinn Krieger and music by Charlie Greenberg.

— American Theatre
Two of the Best Holiday Shows for NYC Kids

Mommy Poppins just named Ballerina Swan and the Nutcracker & Young Charles Dickens as two of the best holiday shows for NYC Kids! Thank you, Mommy Poppins, for always supporting our work!

Ballerina Swan & The Nutcracker — Midtown West
Saturday, November 26-Sunday, December 18
Ages 3-8
A sequel to New York City Children’s Theater’s hit Ballerina Swan (inspired by NYC Ballet prima ballerina Allegra Kent’s children’s book of the same name), this show finds the dance-obsessed Sophie the Swan prepping for her debut in The Nutcracker. This 50-minute world premiere fuses ballet and puppetry for a lyrical, fast-paced experience that’s perfect for young children.

Young Charles Dickens – Midtown West
Friday, December 2-Sunday, December 18
Ages 8 and older
Another high-quality tuner from New York City Children’s Theater. This bio-musical about the challenging childhood of the famed Victorian author is inspired by Deborah Hopkinson’s picture book A Boy Called Dickens. An engaging mix of fact and fiction, the tuner had its world premiere last year, and we really loved it. Now the show’s back for an encore run, with some tweaks to the story, a new cast, and a few fresh songs. Find out how this talented young storyteller was forever changed when he was forced to spend a year (including Christmas Eve!) working to support his struggling family. Who knew A Christmas Carol was semiautobiographical?

— Mommy Poppins
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