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‘A Christmas Carol’ on West 22nd St.

Elmore James stars in Charles Dickens’s own stage version of “A Christmas Carol.”


The board of the Origin Theatre Company is currently planning the 10th annual 1st Irish Festival, which begins in the middle of January.

But Origin’s artistic director George Heslin is also busy with a production that will debut on Thursday of next week, Nov. 30, and continue through Dec. 15.

The new site-specific parlor performance of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” will take place in the Chelsea townhouse and theater space, Torn Page, 435 West 22nd St.; this one-man version of the story features the distinguished opera singer and actor Elmore James (see his Q & A below), and is directed by Erwin Maas.

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Charles Dickens pictured in New York c. 1868.

In 1853, Dickens began performing his popular story in front of large theatre audiences. First published in 1843, “A Christmas Carol” was adapted for the stage within weeks of its publication. But it was Dickens’s own command performances that drew huge crowds in large theatres across England, and in a famous tour of America in 1867-68, earning him what could be described as rock-star status of his day.

Adapting Dickens’s little-used original performance text, Origin’s staging transforms the Chelsea home of the actors Rip Torn and the late Geraldine Page (and managed by their son, the actor and director Tony Torn), filling the 19th century townhouse with the sights, sounds and smells of both a large Victorian home, and a more modest dwelling circa 1853. Mince pie and mulled wine, prepared on the premises, will be served during the performance. A chorus singing period carols will also evoke the season.

Performances are Tuesday to Sunday as follows: Thursday, Nov. 30, Friday, Dec. 1; Saturday, Dec. 2; Sunday, Dec. 3; Tuesday, Dec. 5; Wednesday, Dec. 6; Thursday, Dec. 7; Friday, Dec 8; Saturday, Dec. 9; Sunday, Dec. 10; Tuesday, Dec. 12; Wednesday, Dec 13; Thursday, Dec 14; Friday, Dec. 15. All shows at 8 p.m. Tickets are $65 (includes wine and holiday treats during 7:30 p.m. pre-show). For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit . Torn Page, 435 West 22nd, is between 9th & 10th Avenues.

Some questions for Elmore James

Who are your favorite actors?

Montgomery Clift, Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Garland.

What inspired you to become an actor?

When I was four years old, I discovered the brilliant genius of Lucille Ball and knew immediately that that’s what I wanted to do—make people laugh. It was only later that I discovered that in acting on stage, the actor becomes the fulcrum in a conversation of big ideas and I wanted the stand at the center of the conversation and express what I felt were my deepest dreams and desires for humanity.

What is your favorite book and why?

I most like to read non-fiction. It is difficult to single out any one particular book but I am drawn to biographies, history and metaphysical thought. Walter Russell’s “A New Concept of the Universe” is a special favorite of mine.

What is your favorite film and why?

Impossible to choose. I love the “Godfather” trilogy and the Hitchcock film “Lifeboat” both because of the magnificent ensemble work of the actors, as well as the first-class scripts. Come to think of it, I also would also include among them “All About Eve,” “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” “Leave it on the Floor” and “Boogie Nights” in the same category and for the same reasons.

If you were not an actor what other profession would you choose to do in life?

I am actually doing what it is I love most: teaching, directing and conducting seminars on a course I created called, “A Course in Genius—What You Didn’t Know You Already Knew.”

What advice would you give a young actor starting out in the business?

The most important thing is to be in the room when something happens—and to be ready when it does. You have to be in the room! And once you are, always remember to make your partner look good!

What is the trait you like most in other people?

Genuine kindness.

What was the last play you attended?

“Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.” Magnificent!

What was the last movie you saw?

“Get Out.”

Who are the directors, both in theatre and film who inspire you the most?

Theatre: Hal Prince, Jack O’Brien; film: Sidney Lumet, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Federico Fellini, William Wyler, Billy Wilder.

What is the biggest risk you have ever taken in your life?

Moving to Europe without knowing anyone, having no place to live and having no money. It worked out!

What is your favorite country and why?

It is not really countries but rather their cultures that I particularly like, or dislike. There are pros and cons in each. I love Germany, especially Bavaria, because of its culture, its relationship to its natural environment, its sincere and devoted people that I have met there and because of its overall quality of life.

The cover of a 1st edition of “A Christmas Carol” from 1843.