Encore Michigan

Jacob Marley is the star at Dio’s ‘Christmas Carol’

Review November 27, 2017 David Kiley

PINCKNEY,Mich.–Another Christmas, another Scrooge. Some people won’t call it Christmas if they don’t see at least one movie or stage play of the Dickens classic,  A Christmas Carol. And, of course, some families will debate every year, over the turkey or ham, which Scrooge is the best.

And, so it is worth knowing that there is an alternate version, a fresh, different point of view on the Dicken’s fable, available to see at The Dio Dining & Entertainment Theatre in Pinckney this season–Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol.

As the title suggests, this tale is not so much from the standpoint of Ebeneezer, the miser, but his already dead partner when the story begins. “Marley was dead, to begin with … This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”

In Tom Mula’s script, directed ably by Sonja Marquis and assisted by Molly Cunningham, we see the interchange between Marley (Matthew Wallace) and “the Bogle” (Elizabeth Fritsch), a Puck-like character who may remind some of Clarence in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the one with whom Marley must negotiate with over how he is going to redeem himself.

In total, there are 18 roles by played by four actors. Since none of them are wearing Victorian costumes, but rather contemporary clothes with scarves, it is up to them to work with minimal set and props to convey the changes, and they do well in this. Victor McDermott as Scrooge makes changes, like being in his bed before being stirred awake by the visiting spirits (each one actually Marley changing guises), work very well. Mark Vukelic plays “The Record Keeper,” and several other characters and does a splendid job of conveying Victorian voices and characters.

Matt Tomich’s simple but effective set works exceptionally well to give the actors the space they need to create the illusions and effects. It is a four-level set-build, which easily allows the contrast between the corporeal world and the ethereal world. Chains draped across the walls of the set serve to remind us of Marley’s current lot, and works to set up the denouement of the Dickens-inspired tale.

While the Dio has been known for its light, festive, funny Christmas shows–Home for the Holidays and Mrs. Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge–Bob Marley’s Christmas Carol is a very different experience. The story is a wee bit slow to get going, but once Marley makes his arrangements with The Bogle and gets to work on his own redemption and Scrooge’s transformation, it is a brisk charming trip through the classic Scrooge story from a different and fresh lens that any fan of the story should embrace.

The Dio’s dinner fare features good holiday food including choices of turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, salad and a vegetable stir-fry.

Click here for show days, times and details.