Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, you have come in contact with some production of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. There have been multiple television, movie and stage versions throughout the years. I was lucky enough to see Patrick Stewart’s one man version on Broadway many years ago and always enjoyed the yearly Theatre Downtown version (man, do I miss that wonderful place). I even cackle whilst watching the Muppet version from time to time. What I had never had the opportunity to take in was Dickens By Candlelight, a staple of the Orlando holiday offerings for a great many years now. This season, I rectified that situation and was very happy I did.
WHO’S WHO IN THIS YEAR’S RENDITION
This year’s version, always a three actor production by the way, features Terry Olson, Robin Olson, and Monica Long Tamborello, with the script being an adaptation by Robin as well. Ms.Tamborello is the lead producer. Talented local artist Clark Levi serves as co-producer and production stage manager. The piece itself is sans director.
The show is housed this year, its 27th, at Audubon Park Covenant Church and features cookies and spice tea at each table. It is an immersive experience and several audience members are included in the storytelling and all participate in one way or another (no spoilers). By now, the story is quite familiar to all, so it really becomes about the adaptation, the presentation and the storytelling by the actors. Mrs. Olson’s script hits all the major marks from the source material and is written in a way that quite serves the immersive nature of the production and keeps the audience engaged in a story which, due to overfamiliarity, might lead to boredom or disconnection.
The presentation, simply put, works. Are there times when sightlines might be somewhat obscured? Yes. Are there moments when a word or two may be missed due to actor locations in the hall? Perhaps. But, with three actors working the room at just about all times, one never seems lost or not entertained, a testament to the three performers here.
UNVEILING THE MAGIC OF SCROOGE’S TRANSFORMATION
As for the performances themselves, all three actors more than hold their own embodying many different characters both alive and other worldly (and, as you may recall, there are quite a few characters to embody in the past, present and future). Mr.Olsen is at his best when presenting the Scrooge transformed after his night of visitations. His newfound joy and love of life rings very true indeed. My favorite moments from Tamborello (although there were many) was in her descriptions and enjoyment of the looting of the dead Scrooge’s abode.
But the true force of nature in the show is Robin Olsen. Her storytelling is powerful, her diction spot on and her character work impeccable. Whenever the baton is passed to her, the show elevates to new heights. Perhaps there is something to be said for a playwright speaking their own words more often.
I would high recommend that you catch one of the remaining performances of this local holiday fav. It shan’t disappoint.
HOW TO SECURE YOUR SPOT FOR THIS LOCAL HOLIDAY FAVORITE
Tickets can still be obtained at https://events.humanitix.com/dickens-by-candlelight-2023/tickets
Paul Castañeda is a local writer, actor, director, producer and businessman