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BWW Review: Jefferson Mays Plays 50+ Characters In A Beautifully Realized Adaptation A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Michael Arden directs an intimate production on the Charles Dickens classic being streamed through January 3rd

As virtuosic Broadway stars go, Jefferson Mays may be the provider of the most congenially-natured performances of his era. From his breakout Tony-winning turn as Berlin survivor Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in I AM MY OWN WIFE, to the wryly-humored World War I front-line cook in JOURNEY'S END, an abundance of comeuppance-bound D'Ysquiths in A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, the facilitating peacemaker in OSLO and many more, he is an actor who foregoes dazzling audiences with his craft and versatility in favor of drawing empathy with gentler sensitivity. Mays' characterizations almost always seem to emerge from the most sympathetic core of human nature.

BWW Review:  Jefferson Mays Plays 50+ Characters In A Beautifully Realized Adaptation A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Jefferson Mays
(Photo: Courtesy of A Christmas Carol Live)

Even when playing Ebenezer Scrooge, the miserly Charles Dickens creation that has become a widely-recognized symbol of an uncharitable demeanor, there is the immediate sense of a troubled soul within, which gracefully transforms into the redeemed fellow the novelist leaves us to admire.

Scrooge is just one of the 50+ characters Mays immerses into in the beautifully-realized stage adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL he concocted with Susan Lyons and director Michael Arden (who co-conceived the project with scenic/costume designer Dane Laffrey), which is streaming now through January 3rd as a fundraiser benefitting community and regional theatres impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Tickets may be purchased at achristmascarollive.com.

Originally produced at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse, the ninety-minute production (faithful to Dickens' words, but abridged) was captured by filmed director Maceo Bishop from the stage of Washington Heights' United Palace.

BWW Review:  Jefferson Mays Plays 50+ Characters In A Beautifully Realized Adaptation A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Jefferson Mays
(Photo: Courtesy of A Christmas Carol Live)

Mays is surrounded by an intimate jewel box production, with Lucy Mackinnon's projections and Ben Stanton's lighting of Laffrey's minimal set pieces suggesting the shadows of events in Scrooge's past, present and future, which are revealed to him by three ghostly spirits.

Clad in a dark Victorian suit throughout, the actor portrays men, women, children and spirits with the same natural realism, enhanced on occasion by sound designer Joshua D. Reid for more phantasmagoric intonations.

In narrating the proceedings, he portrays a storyteller who approaches every detail of Dickens' descriptions with wide-eyed fascination, as if he is discovering the tale as he tells it. And indeed, no matter how many times we seasoned theatregoers may have witnessed productions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, we can find our own wide-eyed fascination with this touching and uplifting production.

Be sure to watch until the end of the closing credits for an appropriate dedication for our times.



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From This Author Michael Dale