Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol

Also see John's review of Shrek

Ken Clement
The Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre presents Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula. The play is based on the beloved tale of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol which was first published in December of 1843. Dickens' novella was instantly a critical and popular success. The story was soon adapted for stage, and several plays and a musical version were produced in the year following its first printing. Countless adaptations for stage, film, opera, ballet and TV have followed over the years.

Dickens' A Christmas Carol tells of sour and miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, a man who cares for no one and nothing but his own money. One Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner Jacob Marley (a man of equal lack of compassion and kindness), who warns him of the terrible fate that awaits him in the afterlife if he continues on his current path. He heralds the coming of three spirits that will be sent to Scrooge in an attempt to save from himself. That night Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. He awakes on Christmas morning morally, emotionally and spiritually transformed. He is a new man with a fresh start, and a new found love of his fellow man. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge has remained so popular that Dickens' A Christmas Carol has never been out of print.

Tom Mula's one man play, Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol tells the tale from the point of view of Jacob Marley. This fresh take on the tale stands alone as a story of Marley's journey toward redemption. One actor playing 18 roles—from Marley to Crachit—provides a potential acting tour de force that actor Ken Clement embraces wholeheartedly.

Clement deftly goes form character to character without ever seeming forced or contrived. Each is clear and separate. Though the story is a dark one, he manages to find what humor lies in the script. He also manages to avoid being too mushy or sentimental with the handling of story or overacting any of the characters. Surely, immense concentration is required to keep the pace going forward in a 90-minute show with no one to act off of but oneself.

The smaller, upstairs stage at Actors' Playhouse holds a caul of lanterns overhead, their lights flickering on and off during the show like distant stars. Sound is also used well to add slight effects to the voices of some of the characters, helping them to sound more ominous. Both provide just the right magical and mysterious light-handed touch to this evening of a visit with an often overlooked character, and his own touching story of salvation.

Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol will be appearing through January 1, 2012, at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables. Actors' Playhouse is the nonprofit resident theatre company and managing agent of the historic Miracle Theatre on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. Actors' Playhouse, which has brought home 66 regional Carbonell Awards for artistic excellence, is a Florida Presenting Cultural Organization and one of 22 major cultural institutions in Miami-Dade County. In addition to its Mainstage season, Actors' Playhouse offers a year-round season of Musical Theatre for Young Audiences, a National Children's Theatre Festival, a Theatre Conservatory and Summer Camp Program, as well as educational arts outreach programs for underserved youth, and has initiated a "Young Talent Big Dreams" contest for children in partnership with The Children's Trust. Actors' Playhouse is located at 280 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Florida. Performances are usually Wednesday - Saturday at 8:00 PM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM. Information and tickets may be obtained by contacting the theater at their box office at (305) 444-9293, or online at

Ken Clement*

Director: David Arisco
Scenic Design: Gene Seyffer
Lighting Design: Patrick Tennent
Sound Design: Alexander Herrin
Costume Design: Ellis Tillman
Stage Manager: Carl Waisanen*

*Designates a member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Photo: Alberto Romeu

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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