BWW Interviews: Jason Hoffman on JACOB MARLEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL at Washington County Playhouse
Everyone has heard the tale of miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge who changes his ways on Christmas Eve in Charles Dicken's classic holiday tale A Christmas Carol. But have you ever heard the story from Jacob Marley's point of view?
Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, a one man show directed by and starring Jason Hoffman, will open this weekend at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater in Hagerstown, MD. The show tells the story of A Christmas Carol, but from Jacob Marley, Scrooge's best friend and business partner's, point of view.
Audiences are familiar with the "dreadful apparition" wrapped in chains who visits Scrooge on Christmas Eve. Marley warns Scrooge of the horrible consequences if Scrooge does not listen to the three spirits Marley is sending to help him and change his ways. But as it turns out, there is much more to Marley's story than that single ghostly encounter.
"This is a completely different spin on the classic tale. This is Jacob Marley's story. Marley was Scrooge's business partner, and was the first ghost to visit Scrooge. The show has many references and scenes straight from the Dickens classic, but is told through Marley's perspective. And it is told in a storytelling format where the actor seamlessly transitions from character to character with very minimal props and sets," said Hoffman.
Instead of the usual Christmas Carol production, with a cast of normally 20-30 actors, including children, this version of the story is a one-man show.
"It's no more of a challenge [than a usual production] , except being utterly alone on stage with no help if I lose place or a character. The biggest challenge is finding motivation to rehearse. Typically you have a director, cast, rehearsal schedule, all of which keeps you focused and on a time line. With this, I have an opening date and pretty much that was it," said Hoffman.
Although an important character to the plot, Jacob Marley is often overlooked as a important character in popular culture and references related to the Charles Dickens story. How did the idea for a show, especially a one-man show, focused solely on Marley, come about?
"Tom Mula (the adapting author), after spending several seasons playing Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, started to wonder how Marley ended up in his predicament. So what became a novel, eventually was adapted to a four actor version and ultimately the one-man show version," said Hoffman.
The Washington County Playhouse will present both versions of the show on alternating nights; both the one-man show and the three actor version will be performed this season. Caitlyn Joy will play the Bogle and other characters, while Scott Turner will play Scrooge and other characters.
Hoffman, whose theatrical credits include previous productions at the Washington County Playhouse and Other Voices Theater, among many others, is no stranger to this production however.
"This is the fourth Christmas season I have done this production. The first three productions were done in Gettysburg well over eight years ago. The audiences loved it. I am adding a technical element that I have never done with this show before. Not that the show needs it, but I believe it will only enhance the production and help with the storytelling aspect," said Hoffman.
Although Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol is a new spin on a traditional story, the overall message and holiday spirit of the show remains the same.
[The story] is told with much love and great spirit and is a wonderful alternative to the traditional options. It has a little bit of everything from humor to heart wrenching emotion. It plays on so many different levels and is the ideal companion for the holidays. Audiences are in for a very special evening," said Hoffman.
Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol will run at the Washington County Playhouse on December 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 28 and January 4, 10 and 11 with one Sunday matinee on December 22. Dinner hour will begin at 6:00 with the show shortly following at approximately 7:30 for evening performances and lunch hour for the matinee performance begins at 1:00 with the show following at approximately 2:30. For more information about the production or to make reservations, call the box office at (301) 739-7469 or visit www.wcpdt.com.