More than likely, ghost stories are not one of the first things you associate with Christmas. You may even venture to say that they seem out of place in our present-day Yuletide celebrations. However, just across the pond during the Victorian era, they were all the rage.
Before the dawn of electricity, through the long, dark wintry nights of yore, spooky storytelling was a pastime accessible to all. Individuals had to stop working as the evening rolled in, and most of the night was spent huddled around the fire for warmth — enter storytelling.
Charles Dickens wrote several Christmas novellas involving ghosts specifically and, as the editor of several magazines of the time, he injected this theme into story after story, further enhancing its popularity.
Certainly, many may not realize what an integral part the telling of ghost stories is to the traditions of Christmas. Yet, just think about one of your favorite holiday hits, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” first recorded by Andy Williams in 1963. Chances are you never thought why one of the lines was in there.
“There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow.
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago.”
With shows on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 22 and 23, both at 7:30 p.m., acclaimed Victorian horror troupe (and Central Florida natives) Phantasmagoria will bring the traditions of Victorian England to the Athens Theatre in DeLand.
This special two-for-one performance showcases the classic tales A Christmas Carol and “The Canterville Ghost.” Watch as they stunningly come to life through brilliantly expressive narrative, entrancing music, otherworldly projections and paranormal puppetry.
Now in their 13th year of productions, the Athens Theatre has been welcoming this spectacular team of creatives since 2017. Director John DiDonna, together with his brilliant team, manage to luminously spin holiday magic, intrigue, redemption and comedy into a spectacular theatrical performance where, somehow, all of these very different emotions coexist in perfect harmony.
With shows just two and three nights before December’s big day, we can’t think of a better way to kindle the fire of Christmas wonder and awe than with this multisensory, hauntingly merry production.
Tickets cost $31 for preferred reserved seating (first six rows orchestra, and two rows center balcony), and $26 for general reserved seating. A $4-per-ticket processing charge and 6.5-percent sales tax will be added to each purchase.
Looking to take your theater experience to the next level (quite literally)? Consider purchasing one of our box suites, $240 for up to six seats.
Phantasmagoria can be viewed by any age, but is most appropriate for age 8 and up due to elements of horror. Parents and guardians are advised to be aware of their own children’s ability to watch “scary things.”
All tickets are available online at the Athens Theatre website (www.AthensDeLand.com), or by calling the box office at 386-736-1500. Box-office hours are 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and 1 1/2 hours before live performances.