Henley Street Theatre’s Mr. Dickens’ Christmas Carol brings back the true spirit of Christmas
I have something in common with Charles Dickens. Yes, THE Charles Dickens. A true literary giant. Sharing a bond with… me. Who knew?
Henley Street Theatre and Richmond Shakespeare’s production, Mr. Dickens’ Christmas Carol, starts off with Dickens (Andrew Hamm) facing a mountain of debt. And an even more frightening fate… writer’s block. Me too!
Dickens knows that he must write A GREAT STORY to sell to pay his bills. But the writers’ nemesis – the evil writer’s block – has struck.
Fortunately for Mr. Dickens, the Spirits of the Past (Joe Pabst), Present (Rebecca Anne Muhleman), and Future (Jeff Clevenger) come to his rescue as they help him create the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (also played by Hamm) and the beloved tale, “A Christmas Carol.”
Before we go any further, I must confess that I have a girl crush on Muhleman. Perhaps she can appear to me as MY spirit of the present and help with my own writer’s block?
A special shout out must also go to the Dialect Coach (Erica Hughes). My partner said to me, “This is the first time in a long time that British accents haven’t seemed fake.” So true! The accents were exceptional.
Hamm’s transformation to and from Dickens and Scrooge is seamless.
And the spirits – all of them – did exactly what they’re supposed to–remind us what the actual spirit of Christmas is all about.
The acting is superb, the set stunning, and the visual effects inspired. A truly top notch production in all regards. And local playwright Bo Wilson’s re-imagination of the timeless classic would do Dickens proud.
I was beginning to feel a lot like Scrooge this past Thanksgiving. I made the mistake of going to the store. Thousands of people were lined up with their grocery carts, blocking aisles, being discourteous. They were there for the 6 o’clock release of 40” television that was on sale. I just needed milk.
Like a criminal, I had to duck under yellow tape and sneak to the refrigerator. The store employees, dressed as guards, gave me the evil eye. And when I placed milk on the conveyer belt, the cashier looked at me like I had three heads. She’d been warned by management that customers weren’t supposed to get to that part of the store.
When did Christmas become an opportunity to be rude and greedy?
For those of you, like me, struggling to find the true spirit of Christmas in the chaos of the mass consumerism of this holiday, treat yourself to Mr. Dickens’ Christmas Carol.
This magical production may just be the one gift this season you didn’t know you’d been searching for.
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
A must see for anyone who loves theatre.February 23, 2016
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