On Christmas Eve, in London, 1860, Ebenezer Scrooge, a surly money-lender, does not share the merriment of Christmas. He declines his nephew Harry’s invitation for Christmas dinner and reluctantly gives his loyal employee Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off. Cratchit and his children go shopping and prepare for the holiday (“Christmas Children”). As Scrooge leaves for home, he visits some of his clients including Tom Jenkins and declines two gentlemen’s offer to collect money for charity (“I Hate People”). As he makes his way home, he is accosted and mocked by street urchins (“Father Christmas”).
In his house, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley, who warns him to repent his wicked ways or he will be condemned in the afterlife as he was, carrying a heavy chain forged by his own selfishness and greed (“See the Phantoms”). Before leaving, Marley informs him that three spirits will visit him.
At one o’clock, Scrooge is visited by the Victorian Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes him back in time to his childhood and early adult life. They visit his lonely school days, and then his time as an employee under Mr. Fezziwig. Attending a Christmas party held by Fezziwig (“December the 25th”), Scrooge falls in love with his daughter, Isabel (“Happiness”). However, the spirit shows Scrooge how Isabel left him when he chose money over her (“You…”). He dismisses the spirit as he returns to the present.
Scrooge is visited by the merry Ghost of Christmas Present, a jolly giant, who shows him the joys and wonder of Christmas Day (“I Like Life”). Scrooge and the spirit visit Bob’s house, learning his family is surprisingly content with their small dinner, while Scrooge takes pity on Bob’s ill son Tiny Tim. The spirit comments that Tiny Tim might not survive until next Christmas unless the course of events changes. Before the spirit vanishes, Scrooge is warned that life is too short and to do as much as he can in what little time he has.
Left alone in the street, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a silent, cloaked figure who takes him into the future. Scrooge and the spirit witness Tom and the other citizens rejoicing at the death of Scrooge (“Thank You Very Much”), with Scrooge unaware of this fact. The spirit transports Scrooge to Bob’s house, where he discovers that Tiny Tim had died. The spirit escorts Scrooge to a cemetery, where the spirit points out his own grave. Realizing this, Scrooge promises to change his ways before the spirit forces him to fall through his grave into the caverns of Hell. Scrooge is met there once again by Marley, who shows him to his ice-cold “office” to serve forever as Lucifer’s personal clerk. Scrooge is adorned with an enormous chain made from his lifetime of past sins by four masked demons.
Awakening in his bedroom on Christmas Day, with love and joy in his heart, a gleeful Scrooge decides to bring happiness to the citizens of London (“I’ll Begin Again”). He goes on a shopping spree, buying food and presents. He runs into Harry and his wife and gives them some overdue presents as well. They invite Scrooge to Christmas lunch, which he gladly accepts. Dressed as “Father Christmas,” Scrooge then delivers a giant turkey, presents and toys to the Cratchits, and after making his identity known, gives Bob a raise and promises that they will work to find the best doctors to make Tiny Tim better. Scrooge then frees all his clients from their debts, much to their delight (“Thank You Very Much (Reprise)”). Scrooge returns home to get ready for lunch with his family and thanks Marley for helping him at a second chance at life.