Dolly Parton is having a dickens of a Christmas this holiday season. Her new musical "Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol" will have its world premiere staged reading at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul, Minn., Saturday and Sunday.
“These things just fall in your lap and you just have to do them,” said Parton, who will attend her musical’s debut. “How many people have all their dreams come true? I’ve dreamed myself into a corner and now I have to be responsible.”
The musical’s book is written by David H. Bell with the adaptation is by Bell, Paul T. Couch and Curt Wollan, who also directs the presentation. Tim Hayden is the Musical Director. Based on Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol," the show will run for only three performances. Parton does not sing in the show.
Parton said the premise came from a Christmas show they presented at Dollywood, her theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Several years ago, a hologram of Dolly portrayed the Ghost of Christmas Past in an East Tennessee version of the Dickens classic. The singer said the idea to shift “A Christmas Carol” into a Smoky Mountain setting was Couch’s, the former entertainment director at Dollywood. Couch asked Parton to write songs for the new musical and has an eye on making it a holiday touring production.
“I’d already written some songs, and then they gave me some ideas of what else they wanted and then I wrote a bunch of new songs for it,” Parton explained. “It’s in the depression and Scrooge owns all the coal mines and all the poor people are having such a hard time. I wrote all the songs based on those feelings, and they all have a country mountain flavor.”
Some of Parton’s favorite songs from the musical include “Appalachian Snow Fall,” which she said has bluegrass harmonies and mountain sounds, and “Wish Book.”
“It’s about how we always dreamed about looking at all the stuff in the magazines that we wanted as kids,” she said. “I just kind of put myself in the position of these characters that I was writing about and thinking about how I would feel if I was in that position. And, I kind of have been in my childhood so it wasn’t a big stretch writing about poor people.”
This weekend’s premiere of “Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol” will be presented concert-style with no staging or costumes.
“We’re just to see how people take to it,” Parton said. “If people really like it, we’ll do a whole big number and through the years, maybe it will travel around at Christmas.”
Tickets start at $38 and are still available at ordway.org.