Olney Theatre Center’s production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas will appeal to those who want to see a different, original telling of the Scrooge story. This version – adapted from Dickens’ original novella and reading tour – is ‘theatrical storytelling’ at its best. Morella tells the story and portrays all of the characters – over 40 – as he weaves the classic Dickens Christmas tale. The end result is one of the most intimate, heartwarming, and beautiful productions I have ever experienced.
Not only does Morella star in the performance he also greets patrons and performs the duties of an usher before the show starts. The intimate design of the smaller theatre lab is perfect for this presentation. The stage is set like an 1800’s living room in England complete with antique desks, chairs, a makeshift fire place, a coat rack, candles, and a few decorative rugs.
Portraying over 40 characters, Morella changes his voice and uses incredible facial expressions to show off the characters, while touching the hearts and emotions of the audience. His portrayal of every character is unique and you forget that there is only one actor on the stage. Morella is that amazing!
Even though it is a one man show – the designers also contribute so much to the success of the production. Edward Moser’s sound design effects adds to the atmosphere of the story, but never distracts from from the storyteller and Morella’s performance. Sonya Dowhaluk’s lighting design highlights Morella’s important facial expressions, directing the audience’s attention, and while mixing light with fog effects, adds to the power of Morella’s performance. My favorite moment of her brilliant work was during the scene of The Ghost of Christmas Future.
The heartfelt, long standing ovation Paul Morella received after he completed his tour de force performance gave us all a chance to thank him for transporting us to Victorian England. And how nice to see Paul greeting us at the door – exchanging handshakes and season’s greetings, and allowing us to personally thank him for all the joy he had given us this evening.
The message is the key to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Sometimes that message can get overlooked in larger productions of the story. However, by stripping the production down to one simple set, one talented storyteller, limiting the effects to sound and light, and letting Charles Dickens’ words tell the story, Olney Theatre Center succeeds in bringing that message to the forefront.
Paul Morella will help you find your Holiday Spirit. It’s a performance for the ages!
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 45 minutes, including one intermission.
A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas plays through December 30, 2012, at the Olney Theatre Center – 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road in Olney, MD. Tickets can be ordered online or by calling (301) 924-4485.
Recommended for ages 10 and up.