A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol
Preview by Pete Donohue

A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol, Hastings’ favourite family Christmas show is returning for a five day run during the winter holiday season. This will be the fourth successive season Kate Tym and John Knowles perform their hilarious two-hander loosely based on the Charles Dickens classic. If you’ve seen it before you’ll understand why. If you haven’t, I can’t recommend it highly enough as a refreshing alternative to the often tired and predictable pantomime offerings from some of the bigger theatre companies.

Kate and John of It’s Not Us Theatre Company are the writers, actors and directors of this ever-evolving locally produced show that never fails to sell out quickly. “Every year we get requests from our audiences to put it on again,” Kate Tym explained to HIP, “they tell us it wouldn’t be Christmas without A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol and we are more than happy to oblige!” 

“The show is a spin on the traditional Dicken’s story,” adds John Knowles. “I play Scrooge and Kate plays every other part. You get all the well-known characters – Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future… but as you’ve never seen them before!”

“It’s an alternative to the panto,’ says Kate, ‘it’s got some panto elements in it… Oh yes it has!… but it’s also got additional layers and it’s very, very funny. And, of course, there’s the local spin too. If it’s happened in Hastings it’s in our show.”

The show, which is now a firm fixture on the Hastings’ cultural calendar was first performed in Christmas 2016 and ended up selling out and being raved about by audience members of all ages. “Some people came and saw it twice! There’s something in it for everyone – we’ve had an audience that was basically an eight-year old’s birthday party, so all kids, and they loved it and then we have a loyal fan-base of adults who come back every year and tell us they’ve never laughed so much. We love putting A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol on because it’s just such a feel-good show, we love interacting with the audience and we’re thrilled to bits that people actually want to make it part of their Christmas warm-up!”

“Kate and I start additional writing work on the show in about October,” adds John. “Every year we add in new topical stuff which we weave around the existing story… if you  live in Hastings or St Leonards you’re in for a wealth of local laughs as well as other tit-bits that we gather from what’s been in the past year’s news.” 

Once they’re into November, prop making and rehearsing start in earnest. “Every year we try to make bits of it bigger and better and different to the year before, whilst still retaining the core story and some favourite bits that our audiences actually want to see time and time again. Plus, Kate’s got to see what other accents she can pull out of the bag – I’m not sure there’s a region she hasn’t covered now!”

A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol is certainly guaranteed to put you in the festive mood and, when I went last year, not one person left without a massive smile on their face. “We’re putting the show on across two venues this year,” John tells HIP, “There’s a one-off performance at the Robertsbridge Village Hall and then a run at The White Rock Hotel – we’ve already started selling tickets and they’re selling faster than a mince pie at a Christmas Bazaar.”

Kate adds, “Several people have told us they can’t wait – and, to be honest, nor can we. It just wouldn’t be Christmas in Hastings without A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol!

Perhaps the best thing to do is to leave the last word to one of last year’s audience: 

“It’s not often I laugh all the way through any performance – especially a panto, but this really hit the spot. It’s so polished, so funny and perfectly pitched. I loved the energetic way that John and Kate created all the characters from A Christmas Carol with such economy, using brilliant accents, costume changes, puppets and audience participation. It really cheered me up and geared me up for Christmas.”

A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol is being performed at The White Rock Hotel (downstairs bar) on 23rd and 24th December and 27th and 28th December at 1.30pm & 7.30pm each day. Tickets are Adult £13, Conc £10, Carer £5, Family ticket £32 (2 adults 2 kids/1 adult 3 kids) available from www.ppcc2019.bpt.me And on 29th December at Robertsbridge Village Hall.
Tickets for this performance are £10.00, £9.00 members; U16s £5.00, £4.50 members from www.rap.org.uk 

Running time is about one hour and ten minutes with no interval. Target audience is 4 to 104 years old (or older)! An absence of any ‘D’ list celebrities is guaranteed.

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