A Christmas Carol Reimagined
‘Tis the season for holiday regulars. Among the most produced seasonal treats are literally dozens of A Christmas Carol movies and TV shows. So is there a reason to pay $35 for yet another retelling of this classic Dickens creation? My answer is yes! Use your live-theater savings. The Jefferson Mays “Christmas Carol,” directed by Michael Arden, is truly remarkable. If you think there is little that could make this worn-out story compelling, think again. This one is truly fascinating.
Jefferson Mays is well known for his appearances in film and television playing unforgettable characters. But theatre fans know that Mays is truly a master of playing multiple parts in a single play. On Broadway, he became famous portraying the transgender host of a secret gay soiree in East Germany during World War II and during the Russian occupation in I Am My Own Wife. “My Own Wife,” as in A Christmas Carol, is a one-man show or, dare I say, a multiple-men and -women show played by one man. He took a comic turn playing nine characters in the musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. He won Tony Awards for both multiple roles.
Mays gives an amazing performance in this beautifully realized production. The script is an edited version of Dickens’ actual words. Mays narrates and plays every character as convincingly and distinctly as any fully cast version. He celebrates Dickens’ writing while turning this story into a compelling portrait of redemption. I challenge you not to see his portrayals as filling the stage with distinct and fascinating personalities.
The production is also beautifully and creatively realized
by director Michael Arden. It is staged
in a Broadway theater with full sets and costumes and very evocative
lighting. In this time of stay-at-home
orders, theatre enthusiasts have longed for the feeling of live theater. There are many staged readings and Zoom adaptations
available, most as fund raisers for closed down theatre companies and charities
that benefit theatre personnel in these difficult times. But this production was the closest to a live
theatre performance that I have experienced since last March. My living room felt like an actual theater
and I was as involved as I am during a regular season in NYC theaters. Truly as
Tiny Tim reminds us “a Merry Christmas to us all.”
P.S. This is also a fund-raiser for non-Broadway and regional companies.