Ronnie Burkett

Little Dickens

Created & performed by Ronnie Burkett

A naughty remix of Charles Dickens’ classic starts the Yuletide celebrations early at Centaur. Age restriction: 16+

“Little Dickens is a hugely entertaining, uproariously funny version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.” -Curtains Up Review. Extended until December 21st.

November 19 - December 21, 2019
1hr 45 - 2 hrs
Siminovitch Prize in Theatre
OBIE Award
Herbert Whittaker Drama Bench Award
“Master puppeteer” is no overstatement in defining one of Canada’s greatest entertainers.
«Little Dickens»: petit miracle de Noël
Have yourself a filthy little Christmas with Little Dickens
Ronnie Burkett is one of the great puppeteers not just of his generation, but of all-time.
Mr. Burkett is brilliant! His improvisations are hysterical and over-the-top.
hysterically funny and often very naughty


He’s baaaaack! Canada’s own brilliant and outrageous puppet master, Ronnie Burkett, returns to Centaur after wowing Montreal audiences with The Daisy Theatre in 2018. This time the raucous Daisy gang is getting into the festive spirit, putting their unique stamp on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Faded diva, Esmé Massengill, is Scrooge in this merry marionette mash-up. All your Daisy favourites pop by as Dickens characters to guide Esmé, in their not-so-subtle way, to redemption and the true meaning of Christmas. An adults-only holiday treat!


Listen to interview with Ronnie Burkett on CJAD (Dec. 4, 2019)


Ronnie Burkett

Making of Little Dickens

Centaur Stage

Master Marionette Maker, Ronnie Burkett

Curious about how Ronnie’s puppet characters are made? It all starts with Ronnie’s incredible imagination and detailed drawings of each character, including front and profile views. Every character and costume is designed by Ronnie, who also sculpts the puppet heads, does the wood carving, the jointing, and the face painting with alkyd oil paints.

From the drawings, patterns for the body parts are made and transferred to aspen wood, cut out with a bandsaw, then carved and hand sanded. Larger characters’ body parts are made from a strong papier-mâché pulp, no more than 1/8″ thick.

Legs, arms and feet are also carved out of wood. The elbow and knee joints are made from trunk fiber, the middle joints of the torso are connected by thin cord. The neck joint is Ronnie’s own design, which allows a complete range of movement.

The puppet heads are made from a papier-måché pulp mixture which is Ronnie’s own special recipe.

Most of The Daisy Theatre and Little Dickens puppet heads are one-offs, directly sculpted over a styrofoam skull. Currently there are five versions of Schnitzel, each a unique sculpt with nuanced differences. When multiples of one character are needed, Ronnie sculpts in plasticine, makes a silicone mold, and casts the heads from the paper pulp mixture, creating identical heads.

Props, such as Tiny Tim’s crutch, are hand-carved in wood.

Shoes are made from a variety of materials, but most often leather, which is patterned, stitched and glued directly onto the wooden feet. Camie Koo, a brilliant Canadian theatre designer, has made Ronnie’s marionette shoes for many years.

Kim Crossley has made all of Ronnie’s marionette costumes for over thirty years. Luman Coad worked with Ronnie to adapt a German marionette control designed especially for his specific needs. Marcus Jamin has done all of the marionette stringing for over a decade.

Other artisans have worked on the marionettes over the years, either sanding, base coat painting the bodies, or shellacking the wooden parts and heads multiple times prior to painting, always sanding between coats.

Creative Team

Created & performed by Ronnie Burkett
Musical Arrangements by John Alcorn
Stage Manager Crystal Salverda
Production Manager & Artistic Associate Terri Gillis

Production Partner

Enrich your Experience

Pre-show Convo

November 21, 2019

“Call my agent!” – In Ronnie’s case this would be John Lambert, Agent/Manager Ronnie Burkett – Theatre of Marionettes. John will join Eda Holmes for a candid conversation about his role in the company. Free and open to all. 7:00PM in the Centaur Gallery

Sunday Chat-up

November 24, 2019

This Chat-Up features Lynn Kozak, Associate Professor in McGill’s Department of History and Classical Studies. They will discuss the challenge of finding exciting and engaging ways to present the classics in contemporary culture.

Saturday Salon

November 30, 2019

Saturday Salon November 30 following the Matinee performance of Little Dickens Eda Holmes will chat with director, actor, puppeteer, puppet maker and teacher, Zach Fraser who has been using puppetry to tell stories for nearly two decades, including an original creation with the 2020 graduating class at the National Theatre School.


December 5, 2019

Following the performance, you are invited to stay for informal Q&A sessions with the artists. Held in the theatre after select Thursday evening or Sunday matinée presentations. • Thursday December 5 • Sunday December 8