By Adam Cohen . . .
Holiday theater offerings intended for families offer the awakening of future long-term theater lovers. An early holiday present awaits families at Hoboken’s Mile Square Theatre in an exquisitely realized, vibrant production of Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol.
Charles Dickens classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge rendered through the lens of his long dead partner, Jacob Marley (Sevrin Anne Mason). In Tom Mula’s version, we learn much about Marley. We also discover how and why he arranges for those three spirits to manifest. More than Scrooge’s (Jezabel Montero) tale of redemption though, in this re-imagining, Marley must also answer for his own actions on earth, by teaching a lesson to the business partner left behind.
Much of the pleasure in Mula’s play comes from the careful layering of Marley’s backstory on-top the well-worn tale of Scrooge. In a reverential nod to the source material, Mula uses beautifully evocative descriptive language. A quartet of resourceful actors flawlessly play multiple characters, painting vivid descriptions of the action with vividly excellent characterizations.
Sevrin Anne Mason is simply superb in her portrayal of Jacob Marley. With a brash, indelible impressive physicality, vast vocal and facial expressions resonate through the intimate, warm space of the theater. Running the entire spectrum of emotions, Mason’s performance is deeply felt and a gift for audiences of all ages. From sorrow and regret as she encounters her own past, to the brotherhood felt with Scrooge, her intelligent performance is profound.
Dominic Russo shines as Marley’s after-life guide. The actor matches Mason’s energy, with ample impishness, fun, sarcasm, and purpose to his character’s portrayal. Montero hones the greed and anger that fuels Scrooge, and the ultimate redemption is heartfelt. She is also an energetic, physical, and vibrant performer.
Rounding out the cast, Caturah Brown offers ample skills in several roles. From the Record Keeper who challenges Marley, to many of the familiar characters that inhabit Dickens’ original story, Brown finds the unique distinct quality in each.
With minimal props, director Jenn Haltman allows these gifted performers an ample playground to effortlessly enrapture us. Graceful movement is an integral part of Haltman’s vision. Whether it was Scrooge’s flight high above London, or Marley’s journey through the afterlife, all are executed with gentle distinction and precision.
Jennifer Fok’s gorgeous, understated lighting design shines. Tim McMath’s clever set creates the impression of a city with picture frames, windows, a grandfather clock.
This top-notch production absolutely engages audiences as young as nine who appreciate well-honed language, witty direction, and craftily intelligent performances. Mile Square’s production of Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol is full of inventive performances and twists. This is a wonderful potential first theater gift for audiences. At once explosive, adamant, and touching. The acting, humor, and magical spirit of mercy that is the embodiment of this season (and this play), is expressed flawlessly by the gifted ensemble.
The production runs through December 24th. Tickets and more information at https://www.milesquaretheatre.org
Photos: David White Photography
Featured Image: Sevrin Anne Mason, Dominic Russo, and Caturah Brown