Clintonville playwright's musical now in book form
'Last Christmas Carol,' staged across country each year, has new life as novel
David Meyers' daughter, Elise, was "stage struck" at an early age -- so much so that when she was 8 years old, she tried out for and won the part of the titular Capulet in a local theater group's production of Romeo and Juliet.
Landing that big role led to many other parts, and Dad found himself sitting in theater after theater during rehearsals. It was tedious at times, the Clintonville man said, particularly for one Christmas show in 1997 that was "kind of dreadful."
"I didn't find it very amusing," Meyers said. "I didn't think it would appeal to kids at all."
Eventually, Meyers said he shared this opinion with the artistic director at the Davis Performing Arts Program, concluding with, "I could do better."
"He said, 'Go ahead,' " Meyers recalled. "He kind of threw down the gauntlet ... and the idea for this show popped into my head."
That idea would evolve into a musical called The Last Christmas Carol, a somewhat fractured take on the 1843 Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.
Now, that evolution has taken another step forward -- Meyers has rewritten his play in novel form.
In the play -- featuring music written by Scott Michael, a cellist with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra -- the director of a children's theater has become increasingly bored over the years with putting on A Christmas Carol, an attitude that rubs off on his young actors. Eventually he is visited by spirits, but unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, he brushes them off until finally the Ghost of Christmas Never, in the form of a very bad Elvis impersonator, shows the director what his life would be like without the holidays.
"I wrote it for my daughter, just so she'd have something to do," Meyers said.
He sent the work off to two different companies that publish plays; one accepted it right away. The first printing was in 2001 and Meyers said every year since, The Last Christmas Carol is staged at least once -- more often several times -- somewhere in the country. This year, it appeared the string was going to be broken, but Meyers said he recently found out the theater department at Magnolia High School in New Martinsville, W.Va., will perform the musical. He plans to drive over to see it with his wife, Beverly.
Over the intervening years, Meyers has written several nonfiction works, primarily focusing on different aspects of local history, sometimes on his own, occasionally in collaboration with daughter Elise Meyers Walker, and last year with her and his wife on the history of the Lazarus family and their department-store chain.
But David Meyers didn't have a novel to his credit -- until now.
For his first work of fiction, Meyers dusted off The Last Christmas Carol, translating it from stage musical to book, with illustrations by his son-in-law, Samuel M. Walker, a graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design.
"Unfortunately, not too many people read playbooks, so I decided several years ago I would rewrite it as a novel," Meyers wrote in an email. "After I finished it, I decided I wanted a few illustrations, so I asked Elise's husband, Sam, to do them. It took him a little while to get around to doing them, but I am pleased with the results."
"The people who have read it have really enjoyed it," Meyers said. "It's a Christmas story. It's not adult fare, but adults like it. It's whimsical and there's lots of good-natured humor, but some people find it moving."
Most importantly, Meyers said, "Elise likes this. Actually it's kind of inspired her to go back. She's been auditioning again. It just reminded her how much she liked the theater."
The Last Christmas Carol is available at amazon.com.