For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development



PHILADELPHIA, PA November 14, 2011—The Free Library of Philadelphia announced today that Lisa Litman of Bala Cynwyd, Pa. has won ‘Dickens Idol,’ an open call audition held by the Free Library of Philadelphia to find the next Charles Dickens. Litman will be charged with bringing Dickens to life in a series of Library events to be held throughout the year.

The Dickens Idol contest was the kickoff event for the Free Library’s Year of Dickens 2012, the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth, featuring special events, literary salons, and many creative ways to celebrate “The Inimitable,” as he liked to call himself. The Rare Book Department at Parkway Central Library is home to one of the finest collections of Dickens’s first editions, personal letters, original artwork, and theater ephemera in the world, largely gifted to the Library by two generous benefactors, William M. Elkins and D. Jacques Benoliel. Unique highlights of the Library’s Dickens Collection include Dickens’s writing desk and his pet raven, Grip—the same bird that is said to be the inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem!

As Charles Dickens, Litman will give Free Library visitors a first-hand glimpse into the life of the author who left an indelible mark on literary history.

“Charles Dickens’s colorful characters and timeless tales have inspired curiosity in many generations of readers throughout the world,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. “Litman brought an exciting energy and spirit to his character and we look forward to seeing Litman bring literature to life through her tremendous acting abilities.”

To win, Litman performed for a panel of judges, all experts in Dickens or the art of personification. As part of her audition, Litman performed an original monologue as Dickens, acted out a scene theatrically as Fagin from Oliver Twist, and endured a fast-paced question-and-answer period from a celebrity panel of judges including Ben Franklin; Janine Pollock, Head of the Free Library’s Rare Book Department; Sam Gish, Casting Expert from the Philadelphia Casting Agency; and Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library. The judges declared Litman the winner by unanimous vote.

Lisa Litman is an education consultant with a diverse background in ethics education, family education, and the performing arts. As an actor, singer, writer, and composer, Lisa has performed extensively on radio, in television, film, and regional theaters throughout the New York, Philadelphia, and New England areas.

Lisa is also well-known across North America for organizing and teaching workshops for educators on a wide variety of topics, including creativity in the classroom, designing classroom environments that inspire curiosity, and building community in the school and school system.

“I’m thrilled to embark on this journey with my new alter-ego as Charles Dickens,” said Litman. “We all learn when education is fun and engaging. I look forward to inspiring new generations to the wonderful words, worlds, and characters of Charles Dickens.”

Litman will be performing as Dickens in a variety of events throughout the upcoming year as part of the Year of Dickens celebration. The Free Library is proud to join with community partners including the Chestnut Hill Business Association and with local literary scholar Edward Pettit who will assist in planning Year of Dickens 2012 programs and events. More events will continue to be added over the next several months, so for up-to-date details, including times and locations for these and other events, please visit

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850