An old tale gets new life in an incredible limited run production on Broadway
Credit: A Christmas Carol Live
Growing up as a child in the Bronx, in my household, we had many Christmas traditions: bringing the decorations down from the attic, usually with an old rickety ladder leading up to the pull-down entrance, putting Frank Sinatra’s classic Christmas album on the “hi-fi” as we decorated, and every Christmas Eve, watching A Christmas Carol on television. Although there were numerous versions, our personal favorite was the one starring Alistair Sim from 1951.
Charles Dickens wrote the tale in 1843 and when it was published, sold 6,000 copies in three days. It was an instant hit, and the story has endured all these many years later. Dickens went on to read his story live to the absolute delight of audiences in London. Demand for tickets was so high that Dickens would perform his beloved tale in venues with up to 2,000 seats.
The story has lived on, with versions produced for radio, made into record albums, produced as movies, operas, ballets, animation, made into a video game, performed with Muppets and numerous stage adaptations.
And now, yet another version of A Christmas Carol, produced as a one-man show, starring the incredible Jefferson Mays telling the tale and acting out all the roles (50!), has graced Broadway with imaginative set, lighting and sound design. Directed by Michael Arden, this tour de force presentation has a strictly limited run and ends on January 1. This production had its world premiere in 2018 at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2018. (During the pandemic, a special filmed version was released and ran at 84 partner theatres around the country as a way to raise money for the struggling venues.)
A Christmas Carol is filled with wonder, whimsy, mysticism, the supernatural, but ultimately celebrates the opportunity for redemption within all of us.
Each and every time I see a version of this incredible story, I am filled with hope. That is one of the most important things we can experience, especially these days.