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Petaluma Buzz: ‘Now we have no idea what to do with it,’ says Dickens’ audiobook mastermind

Local duo audiobook-makers record epic Christmas classic in under 72 hours: When Ebeneezer Scrooge was visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, his famous adventure took place over the course of three nights that were magically compacted into one. That’s a bit like what happened to Petaluma’s Ralph Scott and Kendra Murray last week, when the founders of Squeaky Cheese Productions, a local audiobook recording studio, spontaneously elected to record Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol: the Public Performance Edition,” it being the spoken word adaptation frequently performed by Dickens himself on his carious international book-reading tours. Considering how quickly the project was conceived, launched and completed — a bit less than 72 hours — Scott and Murray look now back on the whirlwind experience as something of a Christmas miracle itself

Explained Scott, “It was a one-off that we produced for Kendra's daughter, Haley — who lives in Washington state — and her boyfriend, Daniel. Last Christmas, we gave them a mint collection of Christmas stories published in 1940, uncovered at an antique store on the Boulevard.” Murray and Scott asked them to select one story, vowing to “take it to mic” by next (by which they meant this) Christmas. Added Scott, “They selected 'A Christmas Carol -- the Public Performance Edition,' since Haley concluded that a lot of the other stories were 'a bit misogynistic' for her taste.”

As it so happened, Murray and Ralph waited until the last minute to record the story, and that is just about literal.

“We were editing Christmas morning,” said Scott.

To record the story, the Squeaky Cheese masterminds called in a few favors, persuasively corralling several friends to record parts of the piece. Scrooge is played by recent Petaluma resident Peter Wozniak. The Ghost of Christmas Past is played by Chris Rodriguez. The former announcer for the Petaluma Radio Players, he recorded from his new home in Pennsylvania. The Ghost of Christmas Present was voiced by Dave Murphy, another member of the Petaluma Radio Players troop, and also the host KPCA FM’s “The Midnight Skeptic” radio show.

Novato’s Dori O'Dea plays Mrs. Cratchit, while Murray herself voiced Mrs. Dilber, the somewhat kleptomaniacal washerwoman. Gina McKinley, formerly of Santa Rosa and just happening to be visiting from Alabama, was also asked to contribute her voice to the project, her first time acting. Even Scott’s daughter Lucy Grace contributed, playing Tiny Tim and two other Cratchit kids.

“And the boy in the final scene who is sent for a turkey bigger than him that's hanging in the local butcher's window,” added Scott, who clearly enjoyed the audio-engineering equivalent of sprinting toward the finish line. What matters, of course, is that the uniquely homegrown gift was completed in time for Christmas, if some of the contributors might have ended up a bit exhausted and out of breath by the time the recording was complete.

“To be sure,” said Scott, “this was a project done just for fun. Now we have no idea what to do with it.”

Upon learning that the Argus-Courier planned to post an item in The Buzz, Squeaky Cheese worked one final last-minute act of magic, and has posted the story on line (for free) for the listening pleasure of friends, fans and those who aren’t ready to let go of Christmas quite yet. You can find the piece at bit.ly/ASqueakyCheeseChristmasCarol.

Have an idea for a good Buzz item? Send an email with your suggestion to Community Editor David Templeton at david.templeton@arguscourier.com.

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