Jeremy Webb Can Do It All in A Christmas Carol. Of Course He Can, Of Course He Can

jeremy webb
I was recently speaking to an actor who works in Toronto and has lived in New York about the shows I was looking forward to seeing upon my return to Halifax for the holiday season. I mentioned that there is a one-man version of A Christmas Carol there which has become a tradition for my mother and me to see each year. I was initially caught off guard when this actor responded by saying, “I’ve heard of that! What’s the name of the guy who does it again?” Upon reflection, I realized that I shouldn’t be at all surprised; everyone in Canada should know about the comic genius of Jeremy Webb.
I consider A Christmas Carol, written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, to be a literary masterpiece. Dickens’ prose is so inherently theatrical, and his characters, with their rich descriptions and hilarious oddities, prove so stimulating for the imagination. I think this text cannot reach its full potential unless it is read aloud, and that Dickens’ story does not need clever concepts or high production values in order to resonate strongly with hilarity, poignant wisdom and pure heart.
Jeremy Webb is well known and beloved throughout Nova Scotia for his fantastic performances on stages across the province and in 2003 he created an adaptation of Dickens’ novel for the stage that (with the help of some puppets) allowed him to play all the parts. In the hands of a less dexterous performer this type of Christmas Carol could become a whirlwind of impressions that lose all the richness and depth of Dickens story, but not in the hands of Jeremy Webb. No, Webb roots his play firmly within the text, as a narrator setting the scene and then each of his characters, with perfect physicality and in an array of different voices, emerge organically from that narrator as Webb creates them all as unique individuals and inhabits them with complete conviction, commitment and precision.
His Ebenezer Scrooge is as cold as December at Peggy’s Cove, Nephew Fred is perfectly bright-eyed and bushy tailed, his Bob Cratchit is meek and continually apologetic, his Fezziwig has a soul that shines gregariously golden and he is especially hilarious as the old, cockney housekeeper who proceeds to loot Scrooge’s valuables upon discovering his body, dead as a doornail. The play’s magic lies in the ambiance that Webb is able to create. The audience is able to see images through the eyes of Webb’s assorted characters from Tiny Tim hobbling downstairs, to Scrooge’s forsaken love, and a whole stage filled with dancing and merriment. It is through Webb’s reactions, so vivid and especially impressive considering that he often has nothing tangible to react to, that the audience connects most ardently to the story. In this way, the audience is able to see the story through the eyes of the cynic, the idealist, the anxious father so full of love and the innocent child who is able to capture the entire spirit of the season in one single phrase: “God Bless Us, Everyone.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Jeremy Webb production without its dose of goofy hijinks, inventive cleverness and delightful interactions with the audience, and Webb is the master of being able to balance such antics whith remaining true to the story he is telling. This is a play that I will continue to attend for as long as it continues to be remounted because it never fails to give me the giggles, move me to tears, and to fill me to the very brim with the cozy, homey Christmas cheer that I cherish so much.
If you’re in Nova Scotia for the holiday season, I would strongly encourage you to catch A Christmas Carol as it tours across the Maritimes. This year, Webb is joined by puppeteers and Jacks-of-all-trades Jamie Bradley and Rhys Bevan-John (with Justin Dakai and Andrew Rafuse).
A Christmas Carol Schedule
December 6th and 7thLive Bait Theatre, Sackville, New Brunswick. 87 Main Street. 506.536.2248 or 888.655.2248. or http://www.livebraittheatre.com/
December 9th– The Bauer Theatre. Antigonish, Nova Scotia. 7:30pm. 902.867.3333 or 800.563.PLAY or boxoffice@festivalantigonish.com.
December 11th and 12th– Al Whittle Theatre- Wolfville, Nova Scotia. 7:00pm. 902.542.9511
December 13thEvergreen Theatre, Margaretsville, Nova Scotia. 1941 Stronach Mtn Rd. http://www.evergreentheatre.com/ or 902.825.6834.
December 16th– The Bauer Theatre. Antigonish, Nova Scotia. 7:30pm. 902.867.3333 or 800.563.PLAY or boxoffice@festivalantigonish.com
December 17th and 18thThe Savoy Theatre. Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. 8:00pm. 116 Commercial Street. 902.842.1577 or 902.564.668 or http://www.savoytheatre.com/
December 19thThe Harbourfront Theatre– Summerside, Prince Edward Island. 124 Harbour Drive.-800-708-6505.902-888-2500. mailto:Drive.-800-708-6505.902-888-2500boxoffice@harbourfronttheatre.com
December 20th– Casino Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia. 4pm and 8pm. (902) 451-1221, tickets also available at all participating Atlantic Superstores and online at http://www.ticketatlantic.com/.
December 21st– George Dixon Centre, Halifax – 6pm.
December 22nd– North Street Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia. 2pm and 7pm. Pay What You Can. Webb has the following message for his fellow Haligonians: “Scrooge has decided to get the Christmas spirit at the end of the run of A Christmas Carol 2009. As a way of spreading seasonal cheer, we are presenting the show for two special performances in the North Street Church, Halifax. See Jeremy Webb’s version of the holiday classic in an unusual and atmospheric location. This is the last day of the 2009 4 week tour.No advance sales. ‘Humbug’ to the lot of ya.”

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