In December, as sure as you are going to see those red kettles and hear those ringing bells and pass those Christmas tree lots, you can be sure there will be more than one version of the classic “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
The Dual Critics had the opportunity to see and hear a special performance of Jacksonville actor Jason Woods’ original one-man play that he adapted from the enduringly popular 1843 novel. He will be performing it this holiday season at Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach. Show times are 3 pm December 8, and 7 pm December 12 – 13. Tickets are $15.00 and can be obtained in advance at Christmascarol.ticketleap.com.
Over the years, you may have seen a number of versions of this classic, not only on stage but in television specials and in the movies. Theater can give us revivals and nostalgia by all means, but it should bring works to us with freshness, creativity and new vision. Jason Woods’ remarkable creation, with his portrayal of twenty-five characters, has done this and more; he has brought us the voice of Dickens and this work deserves our renewed attention.
When the lights came up on this ninety-minute performance, Mr. Woods was on a small stage, dressed in the formal attire of a Victorian Englishman. Stage furnishings were limited to a small wooden clerk’s desk, a chair, and an end table. His only props were a small candle in a holder and a wine goblet.
We were immediately captivated as Woods unfolded the traditional story of Scrooge using the utmost care to preserve the authenticity of its dialogue and he did so with a brilliant display of line perfect memorization of the entire ninety-minute script.
The presentation was truly professional in all aspects. Woods has an expressive voice, great dignity, and the vital ability to weight each phrase to provide an empathic and insightful portrayal into each of the many characters; young and old, male and female, rich and poor. He is a man of a thousand faces, with facial expressions offering a total map of emotions. And while his high energy monologues had the audience immersed in this story of hope and redemption, they also delivered many occasions for laughter as the vivid personalities came to life on the stage.
To enhance his marvelous voice and the action of the story, a variety of sound effects and selected short musical numbers were used. Skillfully integrated were bells, clanking chains and haunting music when the ghosts arrive, and cheerful instrumental tunes in the happier scenes. For the voice of one ghost, Woods had his daughter Hannah join in, using an offstage microphone to create a menacing echo.
The play is a dramatic light show as well, with different colored lights used based on the mood of the action and setting, which ranged from the extremes of a lively party to a gloomy grave yard.
When it comes to theater, Jason Woods can do it all, from being a freelance actor, director, composer, playwright and producer. In 2013 he directed “The Music Man” and “Charlotte’s Web” in Ponte Vedra Beach. Mr. Woods spent a year developing the material for this play, while also composing the original music and designing the sound effects and committing the script to memory..
Don’t miss this extraordinary theatrical experience. It is thoroughly engaging and joyous, and an absolutely wonderful way to experience the work of Dickens. Woods never missed a shading point and had always a wonderful intensity in each scene. You get from Jason Woods a performance that will seal itself in the memory of all those lucky enough to have seen it.