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BWW Previews: JACOB MARLEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (NOT YOUR GRANDMA'S CHRISTMAS CAROL) at American Stage

A punk 80s origin story on Scrooge's business partner, Jacob Marley.

BWW Previews: JACOB MARLEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (NOT YOUR GRANDMA'S CHRISTMAS CAROL) at American Stage

BWW Previews: JACOB MARLEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (NOT YOUR GRANDMA'S CHRISTMAS CAROL) at American Stage
Photo Credit: Chaz D Photography

Coming to American Stage on December 8, 2021 - January 2, 2022, is a play that actors Saren Nofs Snyder and Amanda Jane Snyder describe as "not your Grandmother's Christmas Carol." Set in the 80s, this punk twist on the beloved holiday classic puts Jacob Marley in the driver's seat.

Producing Artistic Director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj makes his American Stage directorial debut and a cast of 4 - Saren, Amanda, Patrick A. Jackson, and Amber McNew, brings to life 18 different characters not cast traditionally. Part comedy, part drama, together, they will tell the origin story of Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner, Jacob Marley in Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol.

BWW Previews: JACOB MARLEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (NOT YOUR GRANDMA'S CHRISTMAS CAROL) at American Stage
Amanda Jane Synder

"The story on its own lends itself to the true foundation and truth of the human experience that we all have. In this adaptation, the audience will find we're heightening that experience even more through what was going on in the 80s, with different elements of gender fluidity and different ideas of casting taking place," explained Amanda.

Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol addresses how Jacob's afterlife occurred. In this new version, Jacob Marley may be able to redeem his wicked soul by helping save one man who is worse than he.

"We learn the backstory of why Jacob Marley had to come to Scrooge and warn him about his evil ways," said Saren. "There is deeper tenderness in this particular production, yet there's a real darkness to it. These characters are really awful people at the beginning. I feel the redemption is much stronger than in any other production I've seen of the traditional Christmas Carol. I know when I was reading it for the first time, there were numerous times where I found myself weeping, and I wasn't expecting to be so profoundly moved by a story of redemption - of all our redemptions."

Unlike the classic tale with one main character choosing to change, all of Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol characters have a transformational moment in the play.

Both actors said that the costumes by designer Jordan Jeffers help create a complete character in the play.

"Some of these characters have one or two lines, but we see a full arch of humanity of who this person by the details that are added with sound, lights, the blocking, and definitely through the costumes," said Amanda. "Jordan Jeffers has done an amazing job of capturing each character which is helpful for us."

BWW Previews: JACOB MARLEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (NOT YOUR GRANDMA'S CHRISTMAS CAROL) at American Stage
Saren Nofs Snyder

Seren, who plays Christmas Past and Present, child Marley, young Marley, and old Marley, said that what she loved most about this play was transforming into each nontraditional character role. She performs in multiple dielects from upper-crust English, Cockney, and Irish.

"I love the ability to be chameleon-like, to take on and embody someone who is not us."

Amanda said that the overarching theme of the production is doing the best we can with what we have.

"I think the theme of human arises in every character, even in the characters that aren't human."

Seren borrowed a line from the play.

"There is a light or a chord that binds all of humanity together. Each of us is connected to everyone else, that we're all in circles together."

The actors stressed how grateful they were to be back on stage after a long intermission. They said that audiences of every age should see the show, especially because of the diverse casting. They will see the real-life difficulties happening in 2021 reflected on the stage in the 1980s within a classic story.

"History repeats itself, and we can see that within this show. It's really about being human, and anyone who's human should come and see it," said Amanda. "Good art leaves us having difficult conversations. Stories like this remind us that we are all human beings showing up in the best way we know how."

Seren added, "If you are someone like myself who is not a huge fan of A Christmas Carol or if you absolutely love the play, come see a different adaptation. See the backstory of characters you already know and learn more about them. The casting is nontraditional, and I would like audiences to think about why we have traditionally prescribed who is allowed to play what roles and what experiences they had while watching a person of a different gender, race, or orientation take on a role that they had thought of in one particular way before. How does it make them see these characters with new eyes, and how do they feel about them to understand humanity more deeply."

Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol is at American Stage from December 8, 2021 - January 2, 2022. To learn more or to buy tickets, visit americanstage.org/christmas-carol.



Review: THE NIGHT BEFORE is the Perfect Gift at FreeFall Theatre Company Photo
Allow me if you will a little indulgence as I set the scene. The year is 2020, the Global Pandemic that has riddled the world, and the country as we know it to shutter/ shelter in place. Like many Performing Arts Organizations, the folks at freeFall Theatre, known for their motto “Just escape awhile...” and their inventive way of producing live theatre, was struggling to find the best outlet to keep producing, while safely doing so for both performers and patrons alike. Producing Artistic Director Eric Davis and Director Matthew McGee began discussions about how to safely produce a Christmas Show that was full on Christmas versus just taking place around Christmas. In the past freeFall has produced works such as Peter & The Starcatcher, and The Lion in Winter that work for Christmas shows, but are not necessarily Christmas shows. They have also in the past produced A Christmas Carol, but being inventive, Eric Davis and company wanted to shake things up a little, and if any theatre is well known for doing just that, its freeFall. So you can say the show itself was born out of a challenge, and freeFall delivered ten-fold. The Night Before was such a hit, freeFall decided to bring it back this season for the second year in a row, with some new adaptations and new characters.

Review: THE ROAD TO HELL IS A BEAUTIFUL RELEVANT JOURNEY WITH HADESTOWN at Straz Center Fo Photo
Yes, the Holiday Season is once again upon us. Time for merriment, gathering with friends, family, chosen family, and what have you to enjoy the sights, the sounds, and the food of the season. Amidst all of the hustle and bustle of the times, the Straz Center’s Carol Morsani Hall brings a different fable and tale of love, hope, and the courage to survive against all odds to its patrons following the close of Thanksgiving weekend, and ushering in the first week of December. Unlike Ghosts of both Past, and Present, patrons of the Straz Center are plunged head-first into a dark tale based on figures found in Greek Mythology, and the tale itself seems all too relevant and perfectly placed in our current climate. The Broadway Smash Hadestown takes the stage by storm and leaves no prisoners in its wake. I for one am thankful for this time, the time to sit in a sacred space and experience the undeniably beautiful event that is live theatre, and the Straz Center is the Gift that keeps on giving, not only during the holiday season but all year long. Their 2022/2023 Bank of America Broadway Season is one of the absolute best yet!

Previews: SANTAS ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE at Straz Teco Theatre Photo
Twenty-two Patel Conservatory students, ages 10 to 18, perform in this action-packed holiday play, assisted by eight apprentices. The student apprentices design most of the show, from full costumes to the colorful video-game-influenced set.

Review: Kander & Ebbs Brilliant, Terrifically Terrifying CABARET at the Asolo Rep Photo
It's a technical marvel from all aspects, with an outstanding cast beautifully directed by Josh Rhodes.


From This Author - Deborah Bostock-Kelley

A twice-published author, multi-time award-winning playwright, magazine writer, theatre reviewer, and newspaper journalist with 30+ years in journalism and business copywriting, Deb was a 2019 Reci... (read more about this author)


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