Jefferson Mays is no stranger to playing multiple characters or one-man shows. Starring as every character in A Christmas Carol, this is a manic production with striking lighting and sound design, and leans into the spookiness of the story. Sometimes the critics got lost in the multiple characters, sometimes in the blurring of the heavy-handed production design, but overall, everyone was grateful to see a vivid new interpretation of this classic show and grateful that Mays was at the center of it all.
The New York Times Review for A Christmas Carol
Has Jefferson Mays ever met a role — or a root vegetable — that he hesitated to take on? In the noisy, excitable one-man version of “A Christmas Carol” on Broadway, in a production that opened Monday at the Nederlander Theater, Mays stars as Ebenezer Scrooge, spirits of Christmas, assorted Cratchits, street folk, partygoers. He even plays a boiling potato, straining against a pot lid. At the festive board, Mays is side dish, main course, everything. … [Mays] is a master of manifold parts. If he were left alone, without lights, sound, projections or Dane Laffrey’s curving, swerving set, he might put across this fable even more convincingly. … This “Carol” is a breathless entertainment. Is breathing such a bad thing? It might have been nice to have had more respite.
Variety Review for A Christmas Carol
For all its dizzying charms, the overstuffed show doesn’t quite deliver on what really counts — the three Spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future, as they conjure up visions to terrify Scrooge into changing his parsimonious ways. Here the individual spirits don’t really come alive (ahem), and their visions feel rushed on and off the stage. I can’t help wondering how Dickens the performer managed to breathe life into the characters created by Dickens the novelist. (They say he waved his arms a lot and became quite bombastic.) Mays does none of that corny stuff, but for all the theatrical magic he makes on his own, he really could use a bit more help.
New York Post Review for A Christmas Carol
What’s so striking about this streamlined “Carol,” though, is the grandeur it manages to summon with simplicity — and how brisk the show is in every sense of the word. … What’s on Broadway right now is livelier but not modernized, per se. The rapid-fire adaptation by Arden, Mays and Susan Lyons is still firmly Victorian in approach, yet has vitality and renewed stamina. Mays’ manic energy is exactly what ‘neezer needed. … This is the first show of the Broadway season in which lighting (by Ben Stanton) has been essential. Joshua D. Reid’s sound design gets a rise out of the audience, also. And the direction is very fine. … Even if you’re a Scrooge when it comes to annual holiday fare, like I am, “A Christmas Carol” succeeds as a strong piece of theater.