Comedic ‘Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol’ opens at Acrosstown Repertory Theatre


“Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” which features, from left, George Steven O’Brien, Tom Miller and Ed Hunter, opens Friday and continues through Dec. 22 at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre.

Alex Sanchez/Correspondent
Published: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.

Jacob Marley may be best known as the first ghost to rattle Ebenezer Scrooge’s nerves in “A Christmas Carol.” But in “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol,” an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ tale that tells the story from Marley’s point of view, the latter becomes a fleshed-out character — one given a chance to save himself if only he can redeem Scrooge’s soul first.

Facts

‘Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol’

What: Tom Mula’s comedic play recounts Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” from Marley’s point of view
When: Opens Friday and runs 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 22
Where: Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, 619 S. Main St.
Tickets: $10
Info: 234-6278, Acrosstown.org

Saving Scrooge won’t be easy, however: Marley is himself doggedly shadowed by a sprite named Bogle, a character new to the classic story and one that’s described as a “hellish sprite with his own agenda.”

The play opens Friday at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, where director Carolyn Salt says theatergoers will see a production both comedic and dramatic, a retelling of one of literature’s best-known tales with some surprises and holiday sentiment all its own.

“It’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ from Jacob Marley’s perspective, so it has moments of genuine comedy, but it also has a true pathos to it, an emotionally resounding story of redemption; a little bit of everything,” Salt says.

Written and first performed by Chicago playwright/actor Tom Mula in 1994, “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” was published as a novel the following the year and ran for two seasons in Chicago as a one-man show starring Mula.

Salt says she became enamored of the work in Albany, N.Y., where she appeared in a production of the play for five actors about a decade ago. The Acrosstown production will be staged in a “story theater” format in which four actors portray the characters made famous by Dickens as well as the new ones created by Mula.

“They play all the characters and narrate the story as they go,” Salt says. “So there’s very minimal props, minimal costumes; it’s very much story theater. It’s totally acted out, but they may have to go from one character to another character in a span of just moments.”

Without giving any of the play’s surprises away, Salt says it will reacquaint theater-goers with favorite characters from Dickens’ tale while telling a slightly different story that introduces some new ones as well. “There’s Scrooge’s redemption to be considered, but there’s also Marley’s redemption, and possibly even the Bogle’s redemption,” she says.

“This is a whole new retelling. It assumes that Jacob Marley has been sent to redeem Scrooge, so instead of just showing up as the first ghost, he also is behind the Ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present and the ghost of Christmas yet to come.

“It’s a story that I don’t think has been done in Gainesville. And it’s just a beautiful story not to bring it here and share with everyone.”

Contact Bill Dean at 374-5039 or at bill.dean@gvillesun.com, and follow on Twitter @SceneBillDean.

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