As we enter the season of giving, we celebrate our members who use their gifts to give back. Today we feature Lyric violist Frank Babbitt. When you get into a conversation with Frank you realize right away that he has a flair for the dramatic. At any moment, and with a twinkle in his eye, he is likely to quote lines from “The Godfather”, ”Dr. Strangelove” or “Blazing Saddles” in convincing character.
In fact, Frank studied acting and music and combines both these passions in his rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a benefit he has been performing in the Chicago area for the past 10 years.
“It all started when my mother-in-law gave me a copy of The Annotated Christmas Carol, complete with the history of 19th century London and details of Dickens’ life.”
Towards the end of his life, Dickens toured England and America performing public readings of his works, especially the wildly popular Christmas Carol. Frank performs the 1868 Public Reading Text, a version Dickens himself adapted for his own use. Frank has added dance and ballad tunes played on the fiddle to enhance the story at key moments.
Over the years proceeds from Frank’s performances have benefitted many organizations including Scholarships for the Blind (summer camps), The Northern Wisconsin Reading Program, Equine Therapy for at Risk Youth, The Food Bank of Park Ridge and Housing Options for the Mentally Ill in Evanston.
“I am very proud of the groups I have been able to support. I feel like this is in keeping with the spirit of Dickens whose first reading was a benefit for charity”
This year’s performances will be held Friday, Dec.16 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Winnetka Community House. 620 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka, IL
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“It’s an extraordinary, intimate evening of live storytelling and music, the tale delivered the way it was meant to be, in Dickens’ language, enhanced by Babbitt’s resonating voice and rich viola.”
Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times