Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- American Repertory Theater of WNY invites all humbuggers to see the one-man, tour-de-force presentation of Charles Dickens Presents: A Christmas Carol on December 16th & 17th at the Buffalo East, 1410 Main Street, 7:30 pm.
This unique adaptation of the classic holiday ghost story features WKBW's Mike Randall as he portrays the legendary writer reading the timeless tale of greed, ghosts and redemption.
Randall, known for his outstanding one-man presentations of the great American writer, Mark Twain, chose to do a version of A Christmas Carol featuring Charles Dickens because he "wanted to do another one-man show because of the challenge and wanted something else in (his) repertoire."
"I've been doing Mark Twain for over 40 years and my parents always kept saying, 'you should do someone else', so I looked for years and years exploring different characters," Randall said. "The problem with any one-man show, from my standpoint, was that there was nobody funnier than Mark Twain.
"I was uncomfortable with doing something more serious or might not play well with audiences."
Tackling the issues facing the choice to do another one-man show and keeping audience interests was quickly overcome when Randall discovered the rich history behind Charles Dickens and his timeless classic Holiday story.
"I started reading about Dickens, the history behind A Christmas Carol, and his actual performances by himself, I thought I got to do A Christmas Carol as Charles Dickens." Randall said. "Reading all the reviews of Dickens' solo performances and finding out the history behind this story is what got me 'juiced up' about it."
Explaining that A Christmas Carol was never intended to be done as a play, Randall points out "historically, when he wrote it in 1843, within a year there were 8 theatrical versions of it (6 in London and 2 in America). Copyrights being the way they were, he didn't get a nickel for these productions. It was never written as a play!
"Dickens was an aspiring actor and when asked to read A Christmas Carol for an event, Randall said, "He was a ham actor and threw himself into it, and at that point, it began his mission to present his A Christmas Carol the way he wanted it presented."
Receiving audience acclaim and critical praise, Charles Dickens continued to perform live readings of his story up to his death in 1870. Two years prior to his death, Charles Dickens visited Buffalo on March 13th & 14th, 1868 and delighted audiences with a reading of the Holiday tale.
Randall uncertain to whether or not audiences would accept the one-man portrayal of the famed writer, decided in 2007 to move forward with the production at a fundraiser.
"I didn't know if people would be interested in this, but, sure enough, they were. It kind of surprised me how well it played on stage," he said.
Since that performance, Randall notes that this one-man show gives justice to the author's true intentions of the work.
"My experiences with it over the past five years is it plays well for the audiences. Audiences enjoy it," Randall said. "It's a different version of A Christmas Carol instead of the full-blown, 22 character ensemble piece with Christmas music and all that."
Attributing the success of Charles Dickens Presents: A Christmas Carol to his dedication and commitment to storytelling, Randall also places an emphasis on character development within the telling.
"Part of (the success) was the commitment to become all the characters, not full-blown characterizations, but when Mrs Cratchit speaks, the character is Mrs Cratchit and Tiny Tim speaks as Tiny Tim. Well, I should say Charles Dickens speaks as Mrs Cratchit and Tiny Tim," Randall said.
"Anytime you see a storyteller that really throws themselves into the story, there's really nothing more engaging that the interchange between the teller and audience." Randall concluded. "I don't know if it's something in our DNA or what but we all love to hear stories from the time we were little kids to now."