The Public Theatre in Lewiston has partnered with Maine illustrator Matt Tavares to create a video recording of “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” now available on its website thepublictheatre.org.

“Since we were unable to produce A Christmas Carol this year, we wanted to create a few things to share with our audience for all of their generous support this season,” said Artistic Director Christopher Schario, according to a news release from the theater. “We’re also putting the finishing touches on a 27-year video retrospective of The Public Theatre’s history of developing and producing A Christmas Carol that includes a Zoom visit with many of our now grown-up Tiny Tim’s that we’ll be releasing to the public later this month.”

Being unable to perform live because of the pandemic, The Public Theatre has been busy virtually expanding its educational outreach program to support teachers and students during this time. This free video is part on an ongoing partnership between The Public Theatre and libraries focusing on bringing children’s literature to life for young readers.

Free virtual theatre workshops in imagination building and character development also are available to teachers and schools throughout Maine at this time.

In this version of “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,” the words appear exactly as they did when it was published anonymously in 1823 in a New York newspaper under the title, “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” For many American children, this was the first time they had heard of Santa Claus. Wondering what might happen if they hung their stockings by the chimney, many children did, and were greeted the following morning by an array of treats.

News of this phenomenon quickly spread, and the poem was reprinted all over the world. Accompanying these words are illustrations created by Bates College Alumnus Tavares and original music performed by Maine fiddler Greg Boardman, according to the release.

Tavares was born in Boston, and years later, became a studio art major at Bates College and resident of Maine. For his senior project, Tavares wrote and illustrated a story that went on to win a Massachusetts Book Award Honor and was named one of Yankee Magazine’s 40 Classic New England Children’s Books. Since then, he has illustrated 19 more books. Three titles won Parents’ Choice Gold Awards, two were named ALA Notable books, one earned an Orbis Pictus Honor, and 11 have been chosen for the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art exhibit.