When Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1843, did he have any idea how enduring a tale it was?

When Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1843, did he have any idea how enduring a tale it was?


The story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from a selfish, bitter miser to a charitable, giving human being one Christmas Eve is as poignant and entertaining today as in Dickens’ time. It is a tale worth returning to year after year to remind us all of the meaning of Christmas while enjoying a familiar well-told story.


And no one tells it better than Gary Poholek.


For several years, Poholek has been sharing the tale of Scrooge in a wonderfully entertaining one-man performance at the Mansfield Music & Arts Society’s Blackbox Theatre.


This year’s production is no exception.


Poholek brings the tale of Scrooge to life with a mixture of narration and dialogue, depicting more than 25 characters from Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim and Marley’s Ghost and Mrs. Fezziwig.


The production opens with carolers in Victorian dress treating the audience to traditional Christmas songs such as “Silent Night” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The song begins to set the mood — taking the audience back to Victorian times.


The stage is set simply – a small desk, a stool, a candle, a pewter mug -- but still conveys the style of the times with touches like stained-glass windows.


Poholek begins as the narrator, setting the scene with Dickens prose, introducing us to Ebenezer Scrooge.


“The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.”


And so the tale begins.


We know the story, we know Scrooge and we know he will reform, but the tale never grows old. In a day when there are so many varied and twisted versions of “A Christmas Carol,” experiencing Dickens’ words once more is a pleasure, thanks to Poholek.


He brings the story to life using Dickens' wonderful prose and becoming each and every memorable character in voice and gesture.


Poholek also makes use of the renovated space at the Blackbox to add a bit more audience interaction; for example, pulling one girl from the audience to dance with him at Fezziwig’s Christmas party.


He masters the mix of humor, tragedy and suspense that make the tale such a wonderful one, even while teaching the classic lesson of generosity over greed.


Poholek takes his audience down the cobbled streets of Victorian London to retell this classic tale in a wonderfully enjoyable and entertaining production. Time spent at MMAS’s “A Christmas Carol” leaves its audience brim full of the spirit of Christmas and a desire to carry it home with us and into the world.


As Scrooge’s nephew Fred says, “but I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round … as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”


The MMAS Black Box Theater presents Gary Poholek in a one-man presentation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol” this weekend at 377 N. Main St., Mansfield. MMAS also provides free refreshments, which are being served before the show. Performances are: Dec. 11, 12 and 13, shows will be held on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the door, or visit the MMAS Web site or call the Box Office at 508-339-2822.


Mansfield News