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Listen To The Cricket

Come To My Wedding

The Key To Domestic Bliss

How Dare You?

The Sparkling Bowl

The New Christmas Musical

The Cricket On The Hearth

by Charles Dickens

Adapted by Pamela Winfrey         Music by Richard Jennings


A warm and enticing adaptation of Charles Dickens' personal favorite Christmas story into a two act musical. The style of the play is buoyant, charming, and warm. It should stay within the cannon of a traditional Christmas play set in Victorian England.


Think long woolen scarves and noses roughened by the cold.


We see it as an alternative to "A Christmas Story".

Indeed, "Cricket" was produced much more than "Carol" before the turn of the century.


We are now actively seeking partnerships

with established theatre companies.


Characters & Synopsis

1845 England



John Peerybingle - A carrier; a lumbering, slow, honest man.

Mrs. Mary Peerybingle - ("Dot"), John Peerybingle's wife

Caleb Plummer - a poor old toymaker, in the employ of Tackleton.

Edward Plummer - son of the preceding.

Tackleton - (called "Gruff and Tackleton"), a stern, ill-natured, sarcastic toy-merchant.

May Fielding - a friend of Mrs. Peerybingle.

Mrs. Fielding - her mother; a little, peevish, querulous old lady.

Bertha Plummer - the blind daughter of Caleb Plummer.

Tilly Slowboy - a great clumsy girl; Mrs. Peerybingle's nursemaid.


Time: Christmas

Place: Victorian England. A poor but well kept neighborhood outside of London.



John Peerybingle, a carrier, lives with his young wife Dot, their baby boy and their nanny Tilly Slowboy. A cricket constantly chirps on the hearth and acts as a guardian angel to the family. One day, as Dot and John prepare their home for their first Christmas as a family, a mysterious elderly stranger comes to visit and takes up lodging at Peerybingle's house. The life of the Peerybingles intersects with that of Caleb Plummer, a poor toymaker employed by the miser Mr. Tackleton. Caleb has a blind daughter Bertha, and a son Edward, who traveled to South America and was thought dead. The miser, Tackleton, is now on the eve of marrying Edward's sweetheart, May, but she does not love Tackleton. At John and Dot's Christmas Eve party, Tackleton reveals to John Peerybingle that his wife Dot has allegedly cheated on him and shows him a clandestine scene where Dot embraces the mysterious lodger who is in disguise, a man much younger than he actually seems. John is cut to the heart over this as he loves his wife dearly, but decides after some deliberations to relieve his wife of their marriage contract. On a glorious Christmas morn, the mysterious lodger is revealed to be none other than Edward who has returned home in disguise. Dot shows that she indeed has been faithful to John. Edward marries May hours before she is scheduled to marry Tackleton. However Tackleton's heart is melted by the Christmas season, and he surrenders May to her true love.


Note: Dickens' portrayal of the blind girl Bertha is significant. Victorians believed disabilities were inherited, and thus it was not socially acceptable for the blind to marry (although they often did in reality).In fiction courtship plots, the blind were often used to build tension since it was assumed they must be kept from marrying.




ACT I Scene I.

1.“Home Is Where The Hearth Is”  John-Dot-Tilly

2. “Lost In Love” - Edward

3. “Come To My Wedding” - Tackleton-Dot

4. “Home Is Where The Hearth Is”

5.  - Reprise  (in minor) John-Dot

6. “Ruined” Mrs. Fielding-May


ACTI Scene II.

7. “The Sparkling Bowl” - Caleb

8. “Your Willing Eyes” - Caleb-Bertha



9. Transition into I.4 - Dance - Instrumental

10. “Like Any Mother” - Mrs. Fielding

11. “The Key To Domestic Bliss” - Mrs. Fielding

12. “Believe It” - Tackleton - John


ACT II Scene I

13.“Listen To The Cricket” -  Bertha - Ensemble

14. “How Dare You?” - May

15. “ You and I”  - Edward - May

16. “Don’t Say A Word” - John

17.“Ow! If You Please. Don't!” - Tilly - Dot

18. “See” - Bertha

19. “Don’t Love Me Yet” - Dot - John - Ensemble

20.“The Sparkling Bowl Dance” -Instrumental

21.“Sparkling Bowl - All

22. “Listen To The Cricket” Finale/Reprise


 Accompaniment - String Quartet








In July 1845, Dickens contemplated forming a periodical focusing on the concerns of the home called "The Cricket" but the plan fell through, and he transformed his idea into a Christmas book in which he abandoned social criticism, current events, and topical themes in favor of simple fantasy and a domestic setting for his hero's redemption.


The book was released on 20 December 1845 (the title page read "1846") and sold briskly into the New Year. Seventeen stage productions opened during the Christmas season 1845 with one production receiving Dickens's approval and opening on the same day as the book's release. Dickens read the tale four times in public It has been dramatized in numerous languages and for years was more popular on stage than "A Christmas Carol".


Stage adaptations include the successful production at the Surrey Theatre in 1845, and "Dot, A Drama in Three Acts" (or simply "Dot"), first performed at New York's Winter Garden in 1859. It was staged repeatedly in Britain and America for the remainder of the 19th century.


The novella was the basis for at least two operas: "Das Heimchem am Herd" (premiere: June 1896, Berlin; New York 1910 and Philadelphia in November 1912),and "Il Grillo del Focolare" (premiere: November 1908, Turin).

Film, radio, and television adaptations include three American silent film versions: one, directed by D.W. Griffith (1909) another directed by L. Marston (1914) and one directed by Lorimer Johnston (1923). A silent Russian version, Sverchok na Pechi (1915) was directed by Boris Sushkevich and Aleksandr Uralsky. A silent French version, Le Grillon du Foyer (1922), was directed and adapted by Jean Manoussi and starred Charles Boyer as Edouard. A 25-minute NBC radio play adaptation aired on December 24, 1945. On television, a 50-minute 1967 Rankin-Bass animated adaptation featured the voices of Roddy MacDowall as the Cricket, and father and daughter Danny Thomas and Marlo Thomas as Caleb and Bertha.




PAMELA WINFREY’S theatrical pieces have been seen at such diverse venues as Alumnae Theatre (Toronto), SOMARTS (San Francisco), New Dramatist's (NYC), and Variations Theatre (NYC). She is a founding member of Mobius Operandi, an electro-acoustic sound sculpture ensemble. From 1993-1997, she was a main collaborator (book and lyrics) and created five large-scale theatrical productions which explored a multi-disciplinary approach to performance: “Eating Eden”, “Scatterbrain”, ”Xibalba” and “Exit Vacaville”, which received rave reviews. Since that time, she has written lyrics for and performed in two Mobius CD's “What Were We Thinking” and “The End of the Dial”. She has received several playwriting awards including an individual artist grant by the Marin Arts Council (2003), a Sloan Grant (2005), and a career grant from the Marin Arts Council (2007). Last summer (2012), her play, “It All Leads to the Lemon Scene” received the Audience Favorite and the Best Actress awards for the Avant Garde Festival in Manhattan. It then went on to win a prize at the Method and Madness Festival in Denton Texas and was a finalist at Arts and Letters. She has a degree in theatre from Macalester College in St Paul Minn. and a Masters in Interdisciplinary Arts from SF State. She is also a curator and senior artist at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

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RICHARD JENNINGS' original musical plays have been produced in New York, San Francisco and across the country. He’s composed over 50 musical scores for plays (over 30 of them Shakespeare) in theatres tiny to Tony Award winning and was Composer In Residence for Southwest Shakespeare Company for a decade. His work has been showcased in feature stories in The Los Angeles Times. Jennings is the recipient of the Hollywood Drama Logue Critics Award for “Outstanding Achievement In Theatre”. He’s composed for PBS, Disney, network TV and commercials. His score for EmoChART, a multi media art installation by LR Altman has been greeted with raves. Jennings is a co-founder and principal of Musical Cafe, a musical theatre development and education program for Northern California-based writers and composers. He’s served on the faculties of colleges and universities and is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America. Please visit:




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