‘A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas’ at Olney Theatre Center

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A cold, winter night… a charming theatre housing the town’s lovers of The Arts… and America’s favorite Christmas story – it felt like a storybook evening. It was if Charles Dickens was there-right beside me-reciting his own novella. And what a pleasure to be enlightened by Paul Morella’s adaptation of Dickens’ holiday classic..

Paul Morella in 'A Christmas Carol:A Ghost Story of Christmas. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Paul Morella in ‘A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.’ Photo by Stan Barouh.

What made this even more exciting was that tonight’s version was a cast of one! Paul Morella offered a one man show, and one of the greatest and moving performances I have ever seen! Playing dozens of characters, including Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchi, and the ghosts, Morella breathes life into each and every one of these characters. And he accomplishes this through costume changes, a movement of his hands, the way he walks, or the way he glances at the audience.

And no wonder this amazing show is now in its 5th year at Olney Theatre Center. It’s a tradition that I hope will last for many more years to come and I strongly urge families to come and behold the wonder of Mr. Morella’s  tour de force performance (or should I say performances).

And what a perfect venue to enjoy this heartwarming, and joyful show – in the very intimate Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. You are right there – so close you could grab Scrooge or Tiny Tim and hug him or shake your finger at him, as Morella guides us through Ebeneezer Scrooge’s transformation and his encounter with the all-knowing ghosts, as they lead him on a self-examining journey.

Dennis A. Blackledge’s set embraces the 1800’s. Wing chairs, antique footstools and side tables, plus oriental area rugs dresses the stage. To complete the feel of the ‘no-nonsense bachelor,’ the room is filled with open and closed books, magnifying glasses, maps, and literature. You are in Scrooge’s world.

Lighting Director Sonya Dawhaluk places the icing on the cake, with all the lights out except an informal chandelier, hanging high above Scrooge’s conflicted head, and actual tall flame-burning candles placed on the furnishings. It gave the room the perfect mix of intimacy and mystery. The candles even seem to flicker right on cue. And Edward Moser’s sound design is a revelation, including creaky doors openings and closing, church bells chiming, and the sound of footsteps when the ghosts were approaching. And when Scrooge’s former partner Joseph Marley appears there are larger-than-life booming sounds enveloping the audience.

Paul Morella in 'A Christmas Carol:A Ghost Story of Christmas.' Photo by Stan Barouh.

Paul Morella in ‘A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.’ Photo by Stan Barouh.

I urge everyone who is looking for a theatrical experience of a lifetime to come to Olney Theatre Center and experience Paul Morella’s jaw-dropping and astounding performance.

I will never forget Mr. Morella shaking hands with me after the show. It was wonderful to have an opportunity to personally thank him for the joy he had just brought me. God bless you Paul Morella and everyone!

Running Time: Two hours, with one intermission.

Olney Theatre recommends the show for children 10 or older.

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A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas plays through December 28, 2014 at Olney Theatre Center – 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 924-2654, or purchase them online.

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