The current show at MMAS is a special one-man presentation of "A Christmas Carol", adapted from Dicken's original text. "A Ghost Story of Christmas" was performed by Charles Dickens on his American tours between 1842 and 1868 where he traveled by stagecoach and railroad, performing to standing room crowds. His great-great grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens continued his legacy with tours to Boston and other cities in the 1990's while Patrick Stewart performed yet another one man version on Broadway. In the newly renovated Black Box theatre, Gary Poholek who originated the show right here at the old Blackbox theatre in 2004 returns in triumph as Scrooge in this one man show, playing 25 different characters. He designed the gorgeous set with a slate floor, fireplace with special smoke affects and a fantastic stained glass window painted by his lovely wife, Ellen. Gary is riveting in this role and adds a few more scenes to his show. He delivers a tour-de-force performance, making him the definitive Scrooge once again. Bravo!
Gary dressed in Victorian garb starts out narrating the story then becomes each of the characters he talks about. He mesmerizes the audience with his energetic portrayal of Scrooge, the four ghost and 17 assorted characters in the tale. He switches from character to character seamlessly. Creating the illusion that he is speaking to another performer and during the stout gentleman and Scrooge exchange he changes during their laughter. Gary memorized every bit of this show. He uses different voices including Ed Wynn's as Fezziwig as well as different stances in each role and interacts with the audience at times, dancing with a little girl, capturing their attention and taking them into the story. At one point he threw me out of my seat because that was Scrooge's favorite seat at the pub where he was dining. Gary's performance is flawless, bringing this reviewer who has already seen two other versions of this show back into the Christmas spirit. He runs the gamut of emotions from the comic, when he climbs on the chair as Fezziwig, snores like the three stooges to the poignant when he views the break-up with Belle scene and tells the family how Tiny Tim's death has affected him. Before the show, local vocalist Kevin Mischley directs and leads fellow singers in a joyous Victorian Christmas caroling with six lovely Christmas carols in four part harmony as well as running the sound with excellent work on the reverberation for Marley's ghost while David Butler runs the topnotch lighting affects for this show. Complimentary mulled cider and cookies are served before each show. So for a fabulous rendition of this well known tale be sure to catch the multitalented Gary Poholek in his one man show in Mansfield. If you must see "A Christmas Carol" this is the one you have to see this season because it is an outstanding piece of theatre.