When theaters had been shut down by COVID-19 in 2020, Tony-winning actor Jefferson Mays and director Michael Arden introduced their one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved 1848 vacation traditional A Christmas Carol (which premiered at LA’s Geffen Playhouse in 2018) to the stage of NYC’s United Palace that October. There, earlier than an empty home, Mays’ dwell efficiency was filmed and made accessible for streaming, to the delight of audiences and the acclaim of critics all over the place. After I reviewed the resounding on-line success (and one of the vital achieved digital theater providing of the pandemic hiatus), co-written with Susan Lyons and co-conceived by Arden and designer Dane Laffrey, I known as it a “tour-de-force,” “perfection,” “sensible,” “impeccable,” “flawless,” “riveting,” “beautiful,” “seamless,” and “extraordinary,” amongst different superlatives. For the present dwell in-person restricted Broadway engagement on the Nederlander Theatre, I can add “much more so” to all of that. Sure, it’s that good.
As within the on-line model, the supremely gifted Mays turns in an unparalleled efficiency as The Mourner, who alternates between narrating the episodes and embodying the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge and greater than 50 of the opposite characters and spectral presences from Dickens’ beloved novella to convey the didactic story of generosity, kindness, love, and redemption by way of totally mesmerizing storytelling. Every of the long-lasting figures – male, feminine, grownup, little one, dwelling, and otherworldly – is given a particular and readily identifiable characterization, because the American actor modifications his genuine English accents, voice, and speech patterns, bodily demeanor, facial expressions, psychological and emotional attitudes to swimsuit the distinctive personalities and their significance to the background, catharsis, and transformation of the hard-hearted Scrooge into a person of empathy and compassion.
Underneath Arden’s expressive and compelling route, Mays’ transitions are fluid and faultless, his supply and timing meticulous, and his potential to convey the time-honored vacation custom in a wealthy and effectively condensed 90 minutes, whereas commanding the stage and fascinating the viewers for each second, is unerring. He actively strikes across the house, momentarily disappears into the darkness, then immediately and unexpectedly re-emerges, generally stunning, generally amusing, and generally startling the viewers, producing each our laughs and our gasps. He’s equally adept at assuming the menacing supernatural intonations and horrifying appearances of the ghost of Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Previous, Current, and But to Are available dialogue with Scrooge, as he’s at capturing the life-changing sweetness and irresistible appeal of Tiny Tim, and the defining qualities of all the opposite characters, acquainted because the Victorian period, who had an impression on the protagonist’s metamorphosis from imply and lonely to benevolent and joyous, because the temper shifts from “Bah, humbug” to “God bless us, Each One!”
Mays’ distinctive efficiency – a veritable masterclass in performing – is equaled by the present’s transporting creative design. Lighting by Ben Stanton creates an eerie and tenebrous ambiance acceptable to the theme and the period, engulfed in spooky haze and preternatural colours, illuminated by the lighting of matches and candles, casting creepy shadows and silhouettes on the partitions, then crashing into whole foreboding darkness, or capturing the heat of blissful properties, vacation dinners, and events, and glowing with the electrifying brightness of the uplifting ending. Sound by Joshua D. Reid additional enhances the dramatic environment with chiming clocks and ringing bells, occult echoing voices, loud and abrupt booms, and the merry noise of Christmas celebrations. The one anachronistic notice is a post-modern indie-pop music that contrasts with the general historicizing tone.
Interval-style costumes by Laffrey, with hair and make-up by Cookie Jordan, have the real look of the 19th century, and his ingenious scenic design, with components that rotate, rise, drop, and seem out of the darkness, creates the illusion of an vintage Victorian surroundings. The effectively altering set additionally displays the standing and mindset of the totally different characters, from the sparse workplace of Scrooge to the luxurious furnishings and decorations of his jovial nephew Fred and the genial service provider Fezziwig, with whom he apprenticed, to the standard residence of the Cratchits, who don’t have a lot however admire what they do. It’s supported by Lucy Mackinnon’s dazzling trompe l’oeil front- and rear-screen projections, which give digital 3-D amplifications of the life like objects, backdrop, and actions, and immersive experiences within the unearthly elements of the present that stretch past the stage and into the home. Together with the professional particular results is The Spectre, a fearsome determine that manifests from a shadow to a macabre bodily presence (unnervingly performed by Danny Gardner).
Dickens’ A Christmas Carol stays one of many theater’s most treasured vacation reveals, and this adaptation takes the affecting story to new ranges. It hits the heights of performing, route, and design, and represents the perfect of Broadway. Be sure you give your self the reward of this must-see present and peerless efficiency.
Operating Time: Roughly 90 minutes, with out intermission.
A Christmas Carol performs by way of Sunday, January 1, 2023, on the Nederlander Theatre, 208 West 41st Avenue, NYC. For tickets (beginning at $79.75, plus charges), go on-line. Masks are elective however advisable.