Making the Naughty List – Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens at The Grand Theatre

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Little Dickens at The Grand Theatre

There are so many reasons you need to see Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens, now playing in at The Grand Theatre, not the least of which is it’s a little bit naughty and a lot of fun. What’s most unusual is not the story, a take on Charles Dickens’ yuletide classic “A Christmas Carol” but how it’s told – with marionettes. Most adults wouldn’t find themselves at a puppet show without childredn but this is not a for children (age minimum is 16).

This raucous, adults-only production brings back internationally-acclaimed and multi-award-winning puppeteer, Ronnie Burkett and The Daisy Theatre ensemble for an evening of fun, merriment, and marrionettes (puppets on strings). Burkette last appeared at the Grand Theatre in 2016 with The Daisy Theatre, Ronnie’s wildly popular and ever-changing marionette vaudeville show.

A merry marionette mash-up, Little Dickens casts The Daisy Theatre diva, Esmé Massengill as the cantankerous, drunken Esmé Scrooge – a fading bitter actress. In the lively spirit of vaudeville, Esmé embarks on a journey to redemption, encountering a cast of Daisy Theatre favourites – each portraying Dickens’ infamous characters– as she travels her bumpy, often naughty, path to redemption.

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Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens at The Grand Theatre Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz

There is a full cast of characters in this almost 2 hour production with never a dull moment from the Christmas Tree-clad Edna Rural, to Esme’s rival Marley and the endearing Tiny Tim Schnitzel. Burkett takes the structure of A Christmas Carol but improvises the script every night and encorporates audience members. This can make one night uproaringly entertaining and another slightly amusing. However, Burkett’s skilled improvisational scripts can push the envelope with innuendo and witty comebacks.

Insider’s Tip: Get there early and snag a seat in the middle a few rows up. This is the best to see the full ‘stage’. If you want to participate, sit in one of the front-row seats – its fun, just do it!

I highly recommend this show because it will be different every night. We were fortunate to have a highly engaged and anticipating audience ready for anything. Every Daisy Theatre show begins with a burlesque striptease act from the resident stripper Dolly Wiggler. Dancing to a lost and buried Ella Fitzgerald song called Santa Clause Got Stuck in my Chiminey (remember this is burlesque entertainment) the stage is set. You’ve been warned. I’d love to see it again if only to see what other antics these marionettes (and Ron Burkett) get up to.

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Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens at The Grand Theatre Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz

Ronnie Burkett is currently working on his newest production Wonderful Joe – the story about Joe and his dog Mister. It will premiere in the spring of 2024 with performances at Theatre Network  (Edmonton AB Canada), Stanford Lively (Stanford CA USA) and The Center for the Art of Performance UCLA (Los Angeles CA, USA).

If you go

Where: The Grand Theatre, London Ontario on the Auburn Stage
Date: from November 27th – December 9th, 2023.
Tickets: $44.95 – $51.51 (general seating)

Little Dickens Grand Theatre Photo CreditDahlia Katz Pinterest1 1
Little Dickens Grand Theatre Photo CreditDahlia Katz Pinterest2

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for and other online media outlets.