Michael Hollinger


This title is now available worldwide.

MR. DICKENS' HAT a play with music
written and composed by Michael Hollinger

Full-length Holiday Comedy/Drama

Set in London on December 21-22, 1865 (“the darkest night of the year”), this witty, heartfelt play-with-songs deftly weaves together Dickensian storytelling with a playful theatricality, featuring nine “original Victorian carols” and a diverse cast portraying an array of colorful characters.
With its Victorian winter setting, MR. DICKENS’ HAT is perfect for holiday programming, though not a Christmas show per se. Rather, it seeks to evoke those qualities audiences of all backgrounds perennially seek out each December: a suspenseful, heartfelt story well told, balancing gravity with levity, sentiment with spectacle, and generating plenty of warmth during a cold season.

“This extraordinary comic drama plays out as Story Theatre, in which a company of actors set out to improvise the tale surrounding MR. DICKENS’ HAT...There are also some beautiful original carols, written by Hollinger, that help create that Victorian feeling...It’s a wonderfully inventive piece of theatre.”
—Chicago Theatre Review

“Hollinger’s play has wit and warmth. In a tip of the hat to the master, he populates it with classic Dickens characters: lonely, bereaved and impoverished folks who, despite their situation, remain hopeful, kind and loyal. Despite the hardships fate and society impose, they persevere and prevail.”
—Chicago Herald

“An immensely wise and witty new show to which Dickens himself might readily tip his hat...Very charming and very sophisticated...it very well could be a new holiday classic.”


Cast of Characters

(6-15 Actors)
The play may be performed by an ensemble of 6 to 15 actors. If performed by the minimum of 6, the following doubling scheme should be observed:


This ensemble should reflect the racial/ethnic diversity of our current world, rather than the more homogenous Victorian London. Since most of the cast embody different genders, ages, classes, etc. over the course of the play, please consider trans and nonbinary actors for any role they are comfortable playing, but use the character pronouns given in dialogue and narration.



Michael Hollinger

Michael Hollinger’s plays include nine works premiered at Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company, including An Empty Plate in the Café Du Grand Boeuf, Incorruptible, Tiny Island, Red Herring, Tooth and Claw, Opus, Ghost-Writer, Under the Skin, and the musical TouchTones (co-authored with composer Robert Maggio).  Plays premiered elsewhere include Sing the Body Electric at Philadelphia’s Theatre Exile; Hope and Gravity at Pittsburgh’s City Theatre; Cyrano (translated, and co-adapted with Aaron Posner) at Washington’s Folger Theatre; and the musical A Wonderful Noise (co-authored with Vance Lehmkuhl) at Creede Rep.  Together these works have been produced throughout the U.S., off-Broadway, and abroad (London, Paris, Tokyo, Athens, Poland and Slovenia).  Awards include an ATCA/Steinberg New Play Citation, an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, a Mid-Atlantic Emmy, an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, the Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theatre, four Barrymore Awards (including the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist), nominations for Lucille Lortel and John Gassner awards, and multiple fellowships from the Independence Foundation and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  Michael is a Professor of Theatre at Villanova University (where he received his MA in Theatre), Artistic Director of Villanova Theatre, and a proud alumnus of PlayPenn and New Dramatists.  He shares a life with actor/teacher/director Megan Bellwoar and their children Benjamin and Willa.