Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.
A magical tree house transports Jack and Annie back in time to help the legendary author, Charles Dickens, in this adaptation of the best-selling book series.
Show Essentials
+ Ensemble

Full Synopsis

Merlin the Magician and Morgan Le Fay of Camelot gleefully set the stage for a play. At Merlin's behest, Victorian Carolers gather onstage and sing ("Christmas in the Air"). Merlin and Morgan introduce themselves to the audience and share their belief that there is no magic as powerful as a good story and that their favorite story is a ghost tale so powerful that it will shake the bah-humbugs right out of the hearts of all who read it. But, it is a story that might never be told if Jack and Annie don't travel through time to help the author find it in his heart to tell it.

A Caroler asks Morgan, "Who are Jack and Annie, and how do they travel through time?" Merlin and Morgan tell their story from the beginning, starting with the day Jack and Annie first discovered the magic tree house ("How Far Can You See?").

Merlin and Morgan give Jack and Annie instructions for their next mission: they must travel to Victorian England to help the writer, Charles Dickens, give his gift to the world. When Morgan gives the kids a research book on Victorian England, Annie sees that the girls of that time wear hoopskirts and asks if she can wear something different so that she can move and do stuff. Merlin agrees, but warns her that she will have to pretend to be a boy. He and Morgan give Jack and Annie a magic violin and tell them that, when Jack plays, whatever Annie sings will come true. The magic will only work once, though, so they are urged to choose their song carefully.

The tree house spins through time and space, landing in London's Hyde Park. Jack and Annie are both dressed in expensive Victorian boy's clothing, so Annie tucks her braids under her hat. As the kids set out to find Charles Dickens, they discover they have pockets full of money. A Carriage Driver happily agrees to take them to the home of Mr. Dickens, saying he is always pleased to transport such fine young gentlemen of means. As they ride through the streets of London, Jack and Annie playfully relish their new identities ("Two Gentleman of Means").

The Carriage Driver delivers Jack and Annie to the home of Charles Dickens, where they are unequivocally turned away by his protective housekeeper, Mrs. Tibbs. Eager to devise a plan to get into the house so that they can meet Charles and figure out how to help him, Annie asks two chimney sweeps who are about to enter the estate if they would agree to trade places with them. Colin and Harry, the chimney sweeps, are skeptical at first, but Annie convinces them to trade their rags for Jack and Annie's finery ("Trading Places").

Dressed as chimney sweeps, Jack and Annie enter Dickens' home and go to work in his empty study. Charles enters, dramatically instructing Mrs. Tibbs not to let anyone enter under penalty of death! Jack and Annie hide inside the fireplace. Looking for inspiration, Charles goes to his mirror and makes the faces of the characters he is trying to create, including pudgy Pickwick, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby ("Faces in the Mirror").

Jack sneezes, interrupting Charles' inspired moment. Charles is shocked and dismayed to see two soot-covered children in his office and stumbles out. Mrs. Tibbs angrily scolds the children and shoos them out of the house.

Jack and Annie see Dickens getting into a carriage. They try to hail the same carriage driver who brought them to Dickens house but, unfortunately, he doesn't recognize them now that they are dressed as paupers, and refuses to give them a ride. The kids walk the streets of London, hoping to find Dickens, but Jack's velvet bag catches the eyes of two street urchins, Emma and Olive.

The urchins steal the bag from Jack and Annie, along with the magic violin and research book. A chase ensues, and when Jack wrestles the bag back, the urchins cleverly turn the tables and accuse Jack and Annie of being the thieves ("Stop Thief!"). Jack and Annie are cornered by a large group of Street Vendors, and a Policeman comes to arrest them. Jack and Annie see Charles on the street and call out for his help. Dickens tells the policeman that the bag does indeed belong to Jack and Annie because he saw them with it in his study earlier. He chastises the Policeman (and the Crowd!) for judging hard-working children based solely on their appearance and reminds them that goodness dresses in rags and patches as often as it does in velvet and silk. Dickens invites Jack and Annie to join him for a meal at the Purple Peacock Inn and Dickens is treated like royalty by the Restaurant Workers and Patrons ("Right This Way"). Tiny Tim and his mother, Roberta, beg at the door of the inn for a crust of bread, but Mr. Pinch, the owner, staunchly refuses. When Charles challenges him to be more generous, Pinch expresses his disgust for Charles' charitable attitude ("Bah! Humbug!").

Shaken by Mr. Pinch's spiteful callousness, Charles leaves the restaurant in a daze, haunted by imaginary voices of all the sad, lonely children of London ("Who Will Hear My Song?"). Jack and Annie catch up with Charles, and he tells them about his own difficult childhood. Feeling that his work is meaningless in the face of all the suffering in the world, Charles declares that he shall write no more! Jack and Annie begin to try to change his mind but, claiming he needs to be alone, Charles begs them to leave him.

Jack is worried that he and Annie will fail in their mission, but Annie has an idea: they will use the magic violin to help him! With Jack playing and Annie singing, they summon the Green Ghost, White Ghost and Black Ghost  ("Come Three Ghosts"), who magically create visions for Charles to witness, including Queen Victoria reading Oliver Twist and Dickens' daughter, Mary, weeping near a tombstone. Ultimately, they convince him that his writing can have a positive effect, bringing joy and comfort to millions and inspiring them to consider the plight of others less fortunate.

Charles is profoundly affected by what he sees, and re-dedicates himself to his writing. He is excited to share his lesson with Jack and Annie: everyone has a gift, and it is every person's sacred responsibility to share that gift with the world ("You Must Give Your Gifts").

Eager to rush home and write, Charles hails a carriage for himself, Jack and Annie. On the carriage ride, he decides to use his experience with the ghosts as the basis for a new story, which Jack suggests he call A Christmas Carol.

Charles bids a fond farewell to Jack and Annie at Hyde Park, where they are greeted by Merlin and Morgan, who congratulate them on their success and tell them it was their gift of kindness that allowed them to creatively accomplish their mission with Charles.

In the finale, the entire cast encourages the audience to give their own gifts to the world before reprising the opening carol ("Bows").



Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Jack is a young boy. He is bookish, careful and thoughtful, but he is NOT a nerd! Jack has tremendous curiosity about the world around him and loves to take notes about his observations. Jack tends to be very cautious in new situations, and his adventures in the Magic Tree House help him develop his confidence. He has a good (and protective) relationship with his younger sister, Annie, though her more impetuous nature often gets on his nerves. This is a big role and requires a strong singer and actor. When auditioning, you might mix and match your Jack and Annie hopefuls to see which ones have the best brother-sister chemistry.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Annie is Jack s younger sister and, in many ways, his opposite in terms of personality. She is a risk taker who often follows her heart instead of her head. She sometimes teases Jack about his careful attitude toward life and often encourages him to be more adventurous. She loves animals of any kind and has a very loving heart. Like Jack, this role requires strong singing and acting. When auditioning, you might mix and match your Jack and Annie hopefuls to see which ones have the best brother-sister chemistry.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Mr. Dickens
Mr. Dickens is a man in his prime and has a flair for the dramatic, both in writing and speech. His public persona is that of a charismatic celebrity, but privately he is deeply depressed by the suffering he sees all around him in Victorian England, particularly the suffering of children. This leading part requires your most mature male performer with strong singing and acting skills (and a changed voice).
Gender: male
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: Bb2
Merlin is a wise old magician who joyfully introduces the play to the audience and sends jack and Annie on their mission to help Mr. Dickens. Look for a lively actor with a commanding speaking voice. Merlin has the option of singing (or not) on the choral parts of the opening and closing songs, so this would be a good role for a strong actor who may not be an experienced singer. With clever costuming, this role could be played by a girl if necessary.
Gender: male
Morgan Le Fay
Morgan Le Fay is an ageless librarian enchantress. Merlin and Morgan are dear old friends and are playful with one another. Like Merlin, Morgan also has the option of singing (or not) on the choral parts of the opening and closing songs, so this would be another good role for a strong actor who may no be an experienced singer.
Gender: female

The Carolers, including Caroler #1, Caroler #2, Caroler #3 and Young Caroler, can be as small as a handful of performers or as large as your stage and theater can accommodate. If your cast is large enough that you are not double-casting your carolers as other named characters, consider assigning Dickensian-sounding names to your Carolers, or ever have them invent backstories so that they feel more connected to their roles.

Carriage Driver
Carriage driver is a cheerful, friendly character who is especially impressed by his well-to-do patrons. Costuming would allow for this role to be played by a girl if necessary. Look for an actor who is outgoing, has a strong voice and can move well, as driving a pretend horse-drawn carriage will require some miming and choreographed blocking.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: B3
People At Inn
People at Inn are non-speaking roles with only a small bit of singing (unless they are double cast), so these are good roles for beginning actors who can sing. Cast as few or as many actors in these roles as your production needs.
Gender: any
Theatre Folk
The Theatre Folk are non-speaking roles with only a small bit of singing (unless they are double cast), so these are good roles for beginning actors who can sing. Cast as few or as many actors in these roles as your production needs.
Gender: any
High Society
The High Society are non-speaking roles with only a small bit of singing (unless they are double cast), so these are good roles for beginning actors who can sing. Cast as few or as many actors in these roles as your production needs.
Gender: any
Emma and Olive

Emma and Olive are orphans who must resort to petty thievery to survive on the streets of London. Olive targets Jack and Annie when she notices their expensive-looking bag, and Emma follows her lead in a plot to steal it. These characters do not need to sing much, so these are good roles for younger actors who might want to build confidence before taking on larger singing roles.

Gender: female
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Harry and Colin

Harry and Colin are young chimney sweeps who agree to trade places with Jack and Annie for a day. These comedic characters sing a duet and need to be able to change a few items of clothing (jackets and hats) during their song, so look for actors capable of moving and singing at the same time. Costuming (faces smudges with ashes, etc.) would allow for these roles to be played by girls if necessary. Cast two strong actors who get along well on stage and off.

Gender: male
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Mrs. Tibbs
Mrs. Tibbs is the peculiar and proud housekeeper of the Dickens estate. Look for a strong actor who understands comedy. She does not need to sing if she is not double cast in a singing role, so this is a good part for an actor who may not possess the strongest singing voice.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: F4
Dickens Characters
Pickwick, Oliver Twist, Nickleby and other Dickens Characters are the  faces in the mirror Dickens sees when he is in his office trying to write. These characters have little dialogue, so you can use these roles to cast kids who are more experienced singers than actors. Since the  other Dickens characters only sing choral parts, you can cast as large a number of kids as you like/need. For fun, you could assign all of the kids in the chorus names from a variety of books by Dickens  or let them research and pick out their own. If you have a smaller cast, all of these actors could be double cast as Carolers, High Society, Street Vendors, and Restaurant Workers.
Gender: any
Victorian London Ensemble

Including Newsies, Newsie #1, Baker, Butcher, Bootblacks, Dressmaker, Street Person, Cabbie, Hawkers and Hawker #1 are all small acting parts, but these roles are essential for creating the feel of Victorian London. Look for actors who can pull off a cockney accent and who can also handle the kind of choreographed blocking required in  Stop Thief!

The Policeman arrests Jack and Annie believing they have stolen their own bag. He is chastised by Charles Dickens, and when he realizes his mistake, quickly and humbly apologizes. This is a small role that does not require a lot of subtlety, and singing is optional, so it would be a good part for a beginning actor and/or singer.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: E4
Mr. Pinch
Mr. Pinch is the mean and miserly owner of the Purple Peacock Inn who refuses to give food scraps to a hungry Tiny Tim and his mother. He is the prototype for Dickens s Scrooge. While the song  Bah! Humbug! is meant to be comical, the actor playing Pinch doesn t need to be comedic; instead, he should be confident enough to play a shameless misanthrope without needing to wink at the audience. Look for someone who is both a strong actor and singer, but if there is a tough call, lean toward the stronger actor as much of his solo can be sung/spoken.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Mrs. Pinch
Mrs. Pinch is nothing like her ill-tempered husband; she is warm, hardworking and high-spirited. Though she is not onstage for much of the play, this role requires a good actor/singer who has a strong, energetic, mature presence.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Francois The Chef
Francois The Chef is the chef at Pinch s Purple Peacock Inn. He is proud and passionate and highly sensitive to criticism. This is a small, fun role that does not require any singing, so it would be a good part for an inexperienced singer.
Gender: male
Restaurant Ensemble

Waitstaff, Waitstaff #1 and #2, Restaurant Workers, Restaurant Patrons, Patrons #1, #2, #3 and #4, Waitress, Dishwasher, Women Fans and Men Fans are the employees and patrons of Mr. Pinch s Purple Peacock Inn. These roles have little or no spoken dialogue, but  Right This Way has solo lines as well as choral work and some fairly intricate movement/choreography built into the song, so look for strong singers who can also move/dance.

Tiny Tim
Tiny Tim is a poor and sickly child who will not survive without the charity of others. Though his body is weak, his spirit is robust, and though his family is impoverished, he is rich in love and is remarkably cheerful and good-natured. As the name implies, try to cast your smallest child in this role. A girl dressed as a boy would work.
Gender: male
Roberta is Tiny Tim s humble, yet proud mother. This is a small role and singing is optional, so, unless double or triple casting the actor in this role, this would be a good part for a beginner looking to gain some confidence and experience onstage.
Gender: female

Orphan #1 and the Orphans are street urchins who  haunt Mr. Dickens after his disheartening encounter with Mr. Pinch. These are non-speaking roles, so this is a great opportunity to cast singers who are interested in exploring what musical theatre is all about without the pressure of having to memorize lines, etc. However, these roles do require kids who are able to  mime factory workers during a lengthy speech by Mr. Dickens and who must stay focused and  in character onstage even when they are not singing. Consider double casting as the Mourners who will sing a reprise of  Who Will Hear My Song?

Vocal range top: Bb4
Vocal range bottom: A3

The White Ghost, Green Ghost and Black Ghost are conjured by Jack and Annie s magic violin in order to convince Mr. Dickens to keep writing by showing him meaningful scenes from his past, present and future. All three can be played by girls. Although the Black Ghost doesn t speak or sing, the actor needs to have a strong stage presence and must be able to stay focused and in character through the lengthy  Come Three Ghosts segment. The Ghost Chorus is made up of all of your ensemble  no need to cast a separate group of students in these roles.

Gender: any
Vocal range top: Db4
Vocal range bottom: C4
Mrs. Dickens
Mrs. Dickens is the mother of Charles Dickens. This is a small acting role and unless the actor is cast in other roles, requires no singing, so if you have a large pool of actors to cast, this would be an ideal role for a beginner.
Gender: female
Young Dickens
Young Dickens is Charles as a small boy who is conjured by the White Ghost to remind Mr. Dickens of his love of reading, his passion for stories and the importance of The Arabian Nights in igniting his imagination as a boy. This is a small role, with no singing required. Consider casting the same actor who plays Tiny Tim.
Gender: male
Classroom Ensemble

Miss Twigby, Sara and the class, including Girl #1, #2, #3 and #4 are characters conjured by the Green Ghost to show Mr. Dickens how teachers in Victorian classrooms are using his stories to impart important lessons to their young students. These roles require memorizing and delivering in quick succession actual lines written by Charles Dickens, so cast some of your more confident performers.

Gender: any
Queen Victoria And Lady In Waiting

Queen Victoria and her Lady In Waiting are characters conjured by the Green Ghost to show Mr. Dickens that even the Queen is being moved to make social reforms based on his stories. These are small, speaking-only roles, so look to double cast the roles for beginners who want to be part of the process but don t want a lot of responsibility.

Gender: female
Bookstore Ensemble

The Bookseller, Henrietta and Barber are more characters conjured by the Green Ghost to show how much the  common people of London are enlivened and changed by the stories of Charles Dickens. Consider casting with the same group of actors who play the Street Vendors, etc., especially the actors capable of pulling off a Cockney accent.

Gender: any

The Mourners, including Mourner #1, sing a reprise of  Who Will Hear My Song? gathered around the gravestone of Charles Dickens and create a mournful tableau during Mary s monologue. Consider using the same actors who played the orphans. If you have a large enough cast that you don t want to double cast, these are good parts for strong singers with little acting experience. You can cast as many mourners as needed.

Mary Dickens
Mary Dickens is the grown daughter of Charles Dickens. She has a fairly large monologue at her father s gravesite, so look for a strong, confident actor with good memorization skills.
Gender: female
Full Song List
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Christmas in the Air
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: How Far Can You See?
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Two Gentlemen of Means
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Trading Places
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Faces in the Mirror
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Stop Thief!
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Right This Way
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Bah! Humbug!
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Who Will Hear My Song?
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Come Three Ghosts
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: You Must Give Your Gifts
Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens JR.: Bows



Based on "Magic Tree House #44: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time" by Mary Pope Osborne


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