A Review: CRT’s version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a must see

Photo courtesy of CRT Lavour Addison as Jacob Marley in ‘Christmas Carol’ at the Creede Repertory Theatre.

CREEDE — A 10-year-old girl’s comment after watching “A Christmas Carol” that “Marley got a raw deal”, led playwright Tom Mula to write “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol,” currently on stage at the Creede Repertory Theatre. But there’s only one weekend left to see this classic.

Presented on stage two years ago at CRT’s Ruth Humphreys-Brown Theatre with four cast members, the 2023 version features only longtime actor Lavour Addison, brilliantly playing 18 characters. He has acted in productions across the state and region for several years.

Mula himself played Ebenezer Scrooge for seven seasons in The Goodman Theatre’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” in Chicago in the 1990s. The inspiration for the Marley version came from Hazel, the daughter of a friend. Her take was, “if Scrooge got a second chance, why shouldn’t poor Marley.”

Mula wrote a book, then transformed it into a one-person show, originally directed by CRT alumnus Steve Scott, and a few years later a four-person version was created in partnership with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. In the original Dickens’ version, Marley and Scrooge are business partners.

“My hope is that ‘Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol’ could become a holiday tradition you come back to see year after year, with different faces and iterations,” said director Kate Berry, interim artistic director and longtime actress at CRT. “In 2023, I am overjoyed to bring the show back with a single actor, the incomparable Lavour Addison.”

Addison, who most recently performed in “The Royale” this year and as Robin Hood in “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood,” displayed his one-person show abilities in Creede’s Seime Park in 2021 in “An Iliad.”

He masterfully transfers from character to character in “Marley’s”, aided by brilliant sound and lighting technique from lighting designer Jake Harbour, with sound design by Robert Neuhaus and original music by Larry Schanker. Addison uses various dialects and voice inflection to differentiate the parts.

As Berry wrote in the play’s program, “Like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this piece is part ghost story. But it’s also a tale about redemption, change, friendship and, finally, your greater joy.

“We’re familiar with the salvation of Ebenezer Scrooge, but I think Marley’s transformation is more remarkable.”

Berry went on to say, “The line that has stuck with me since my first reading of the play comes as Marley has transformed into the various spirits who eventually redeem Ebenezer: ‘For Scrooge was changed by what he saw; but Marley changed by what he was.’ The transformation of Marley is reflected in Scrooge. Love and joy are contagious.”

As the production comes to an end with Marley (Addison) speaking those famous closing words from “A Christmas Carol,” “God bless us everyone,” a few tears are shed from those in attendance.

Only three performances remain this coming weekend, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and a matinee Saturday at 2 p.m. The two-hour performance includes a 15-minute intermission. For ticket information, go to www.creederep.org.