By LIZ LARK-RILEY
If you’ve finished all your holiday preparations and you’re ready to relax, go see this show. If you’ve still got a million things on your to-do list, go see this show. If you’re feeling sad and alone this holiday season, go see this show. If friends and family surround you, gather them up and go see this show. If you hate the theater, go see this show. If you love the theater, go see this show.
Seriously, go see this show.
This show is Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol by Tom Mula presented by Melbourne Civic Theatre. And remember, MCT has a relatively small house so once again I’ll entreat you not to delay in calling the box office.
Here, I’ll wait…. Got your tickets reserved? Good.
The show you are about to see is a retelling of Dickens’ classic story from the perspective of Jacob Marley, old Scrooge’s business partner who is “dead to begin with” at the start of the story. We meet Marley in a hellish afterlife where he is tasked with the challenge of redeeming Scrooge and thereby redeeming himself.
Peg Girard’s production manages to mine out what is important and meaningful about the season and does so without carols, without colored lights, or presents, or fake snow. The heart of Christmas in Brevard can be found on an all black stage featuring just four actors, four candles, a lectern, and a lantern.
This formula could easily add up to something that feels pretentious and off-putting but in the hands of the four talented actors the show is inviting and engaging. Adrian Cahill, Terrence Girard, Michael Thompson, and Mark Blackledge offer a cohesive performance that is the perfect blend of confidence and generosity. The result is utterly moving.
Wendy Reader deserves a special mention for her gorgeous soundscape. She discovers the right blend of sounds and music to underscore the production in a way that feels effortless and absolutely essential. If you’ve never attempted sound design before, you might not realize what an arduous and thankless task it can be. Hats off to Ms. Reader for her work.
If I were to step back and offer some objective criticism, I would say that a touch more rehearsal might help the pantomimed moments line up with the sound design and that the lighting could be tweaked so that we don’t lose Mark Blackledge’s face in the final moment. In such a stripped-down production it’s important for every element to be on point. But honestly, I felt so caught up by the performance that these things were easily forgiven and forgotten
In her curtain speech, I believe Ms. Girard asked the audience to tell 612 of their closest friends about the show. That number would mean a full house for all the performances. That means only 612 people will get a chance to see it. I do hope you’re one of them.
“Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” runs through Dec. 24 at Melbourne Civic Theatre, 817 E. Strawbridge Ave., Melbourne. Curtain is 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25 for all. Handling charges may apply. Call 321-723-6935 or visit MyMCT.org or click onto ad on the right side of this page. To see a video, click here.