A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Mechanical): A clever take on Dickens’ holiday classic

Sean Vermeire, Geremy Webne-Behrman, and Loretta Vasile in Mechanical’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Photo credit: Eric Singel)

Sean Vermeire, Geremy Webne-Behrman, and Loretta Vasile in Mechanical’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Photo credit: Eric Singel)

Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL is given a witty new context and current import for our troubled economic times in director Eric Singel’s original fifty-minute adaptation for The Mechanical Theater. When budget cuts at the North Pole result in a massive lay-off of Santa’s elves, three of his tallest out-of-work helpers decide to take up acting and present a condensed, fast-paced version of the 19th-century classic.

Staged in two rooms of Fairmount Park’s Historic Strawberry Mansion (beautifully decked out for Christmas), the inventive new take stars Mechanical favorites Geremy Webne-Behrman, Loretta Vasile, and Sean Vermeire as the thespian elves performing all of the familiar roles from the beloved book. With a few costume accessories and props (smartly employing a black curtain, rather than the usual ghostly white sheets, to represent the spirit “shadows”), the talented trio—not clad in traditional elf wear, but in humorous articles of contemporary red and green clothing—effectively switches characters, accents, and emotions with clarity, making the streamlined narrative easy to follow for theater-goers of all ages.

Mechanical’s entertaining family-friendly production seamlessly combines dialogue, narration, and direct address (the actors are often within inches of the audience) with funny songs, scenes, quips, and ensemble-generated sound effects in Singel’s unique comic style, while retaining all the key dramatic elements and heartfelt morals, “Bah, humbug!” and “God bless us, every one!” from Dickens’ well-known story. It’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL and more, in under an hour of time well spent during the busy holiday season. And just wait till you see Tiny Tim!

[Historic Strawberry Mansion, 2450 Strawberry Mansion Drive] December 10-20, 2015; facebook.com/themechanicaltheater/.


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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.