Janet Emily Demarest will certainly reprise her function as Mrs. Dilber, Ebenezer Scrooge’s long-suffering housekeeper, in ~ this year’s Dickens Festival in harbor Jefferson. Picture from Janet E. Demarest

By Kevin Redding

Janet Emily Demarest that Huntington has devoted most of her adulthood come inspiring people through the combination of history and storytelling. A popular lecturer, Demarest has appeared on stage, in ~ universities, museums and also libraries across Long Island to teach around storytelling and also perform historical theatrical works she’s written.

You are watching: Who is mrs dilber in a christmas carol

Most world on the phibìc Shore, however, recognize her ideal as Mrs. Dilber, the energetic host of “Scrooge: The inside Story,” the wildly renowned audience participation display that has come to be a staple at the port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival, which return to the town this weekend.

I recently had actually the opportunity to speak come Demarest about the show, the importance of performing for people, and what do her desire to don a mop cap and also become Mrs. Dilber.

What is ‘Scrooge: The inside Story’ about?

Mrs. Dilber, the character that I’m playing, is actually mentioned in Charles Dickens’ book, “A Christmas Carol.” She is Scrooge’s housekeeper. The means that I’ve sort of reimagined the story is that Mrs. Dilber knows every one of the little crazier things that actually went on. What really does is it enables me as a show to have the ability to have one audience participation informing of “A Christmas Carol” using adults together the significant characters … by not so much giving them lines, yet by providing them instances to reaction to, and also then have the audience reaction to them. It’s kind of “commedia dell’arte” (improvised performance based upon scenarios) however certainly not as an intricate as every that.

I’m basically the facilitator. I tell the story yet I pick nine civilization from the audience to play Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, the ghosts, tiny Tim and so on. These space all world that are simply randomly selected indigenous the audience. Simply after years and also years of doing theater, I have actually a pretty good sense of who going to have the ability to sit tho on stage and who look at the part. Therefore many human being that i do pick wind up yes, really warming approximately it and it winds up being a good show.

I’ll acquire a Scrooge the end of nowhere and also he’ll go and sit through a tiny top hat, and also anytime that I’ll to speak “let’s listen it for Scrooge!” everybody gives him the raspberries. That a sillier sort of version however we do stay an extremely close to the story. It’s a little bit improvisation, the a little bit the theatrical and visual comedy, and over all, that a means of everyone having actually fun together.

How go the show come about?

For countless years i have worked as the historic storyteller in ~ Old Bethpage village Restoration and I’ve performed in ~ the lengthy Island Fair. Among my colleagues over there, play Darienzo who is a magician, had expressed to me “Oh you have to be in ~ the Dickens Festival!” due to the fact that he had been performing there because that a variety of years self . Therefore he offered me the call information, placed me in touch through the mrs at the moment who to be doing the coordination, and also we spoke and also she booked me because that the one event and the rest, darling, as they say, is history. I have actually been playing Mrs. Dilber … ns think this is walking to be my 5th year.

So you created the show and also serve together the only expert actor?

Absolutely. Well, I composed it based on Dickens that course. (Speaking in an upscale London accent) “As Mrs. Dilber, friend know, that gentleman under the block, girlfriend know, i told him the story and he wrote it all down and also then sold it for millions, the little Dickens!”

What make you want to have actually your very own spin on this story?

Oh i love “A Christmas Carol.” i love every iteration … ns love every solitary movie; ns love the Broadway show; ns love the book! It’s simply such a beautiful story about getting outside yourself and also being able come see just how our littlest action really influence other people, for this reason it’s a story the really speaks to me. And also I love the truth that it doesn’t issue if friend celebrate Christmas or not. It no matter due to the fact that being the sort of human that thinks around other human being is universal. It is what’s yes, really appealing come me.

What is the most financially rewarding part around playing Mrs. Dilber and performing because that people?

Something happened a year or two ago, and also I will never forget it and it will always mean a lot come me. Ns selected someone for the show, and after the show the gentleman involved me and also said, “I had the ideal time and I didn’t also wanna come!” and also I looked at him and also I was like, “Oh, who wouldn’t wanna pertained to this?!” and also he said, “No friend don’t know … I simply lost my wife to cancer a couple of months ago. Ns didn’t want to come; i didn’t want to storage Christmas. My friends insisted that ns come, and also I don’t know what made friend hone in top top me in the audience, but I think the must’ve to be my wife trying come tell you the I necessary this.”

So to have the ability to give somebody back a sense of the happiness of the easiest things the Christmas … that’s what it’s all about. The so necessary to take that time come be v your family, and take that time to be silly.

What carry out you do when you’re no Mrs. Dilber?

I’ve taught marketing and also managing courses, mainly at Nassau ar College and also at new York academy of Technology, and also occasionally in various other places as well … like Hofstra.

This past year I’ve to be doing a lot of college lecturing because that lifelong learners. I have worked for Molloy College, LIU write-up — they’ve got an award-winning lecture series up there referred to as The Hutton house Lectures and I’ve been fortunate come lecture because that them. I have been focused on long Island background and the historic background of specific things that we know and love as a university lecturer.

Two year ago, I released my very first book. It’s referred to as “Tales native the general Store: The Legends of lengthy Island.” It deals with every one of those small legends on lengthy Island that you’ve heard of, favor the Smithtown Bull or Mile-a-Minute Murphy or Goody Garlick and the very very first witch trial on long Island, which took place 30 years prior to Salem.

On Nov. 1 of this year, I come out v my second book called “A Merry, really Victorian Christmas!: Trivia, Tales and also Traditions native 19th Century America.” native gathering more and more information over the past couple years, i’ve realized that it’s so lot fun trying to put background and Christmas together and make it interesting for people.

Have you constantly been interested in performing?

Whether it was a great or i was play Tevye’s wife in “Fiddler ~ above the Roof,” there was always an audience there. Ns graduated with an MBA in organizational Behavior, i beg your pardon is an offshoot of management that I never ever really made use of as a career due to the fact that I automatically had mine kids and I really want to spend time through them.

My oldest son’s second-grade teacher to be a spectacular woman; she knew more about human being nature ­— adults and also children alike — an ext than everyone I ever met. And also so she urged me: “You’ve gained this theatrical background, let’s try to make a safety video clip for the children.”

So I began writing because that children and also writing shows, putting on shows, and in the while I had actually started act some neighborhood theater for Plaza Theatrical, that supplied to do all this tours everywhere Long Island and the tri-state area. I would be touring through them and also teaching and raising the kids and all that. Together I got a little bit older and I began writing some historically based shows, I began my relationship with Old Bethpage Village. I reviewed there to borrow a costume and next point I recognize they said, “We could really usage a storyteller.”

Where do you obtain your costume?

I make my costume out of rags and also riches, the course! It’s simply a mop cap and whatever funky looking blouse ns can discover that looks period. And also then I include some flowers and some aprons. I’ve got big, bulky, hobnail boot-looking things … favor a housekeeper from the at an early stage 1800s. I’m channeling Carol Burnett!

What provides the Dickens Festival so special? Why should human being go?

People have to go come the Dickens Festival due to the fact that it gives family members an opportunity to have a fun suffer together. As soon as you walk there and see points a tiny bit much more historically based, it gives family members the chance to open up up a dialogue about traditions, favor “what ns did as a child …”

Grandpa’s not necessarily walking through the 5 miles that snow, yet he might say, “Well this is exactly how I did the …” and also then the grandkids say, “Ooh, let’s perform it the way Grandpa did it!” It seems to broaden the Christmas culture as that is for families, so the younger civilization understand why things were done the way they to be in the previous … for this reason it opens up a dialogue about what’s considered an established society for Christmas.

See more: From Bullet To Blue Sky By Yesenia De Jesus ? From Bullet To Blue Sky By Rosalinda Herrera

Performances that “Scrooge: The within Story” through Mrs. Dilber will certainly be held during Port Jefferson’s Charles Dickens Festival top top Saturday, Dec. 3, at noon and also 1:30 p.m. And on Sunday, Dec. 4., at noon in the Sail Loft Room, third floor, the the port Jefferson village Center, at 101A E. Broadway. This display is totally free to the public. For an ext information, please contact 631-802-2160.