Entertainment » Theatre

A Christmas Carol With Charles Dickens

by Michelle  Sandoval
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Dec 29, 2014
David Melville as Charles Dickens
David Melville as Charles Dickens  (Source:http://www.iscla.org/)

What better way to enjoy the Christmas holiday than with a reading of the classic "A Christmas Carol?" Having it read by the author himself, that's how. Every year, The Independent Shakespeare Co., producers of the yearly Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, present "A Christmas Carol with Charles Dickens," a tradition that now spans over ten years. Truly a celebration of the holiday season and of the illustrious writer himself, the reading is an enchanting experience full of wit, spirits, magic and redemption.

Co-founder of the theatre company, David Melville, played Dickens, and what a spectacular job he did. Embodying the spirit of the author as well as the majority of the characters in the tale, his performance recreates the classic story and brings it to life onstage. Accompanied by American actress, Miss Aks (played by the lovely Julia Aks), the two share a small, intimate stage where one of the world's most beloved stories unraveled. They are an unlikely pair, who through much struggle and effort, eventually worked together in perfect harmony to tell the story of Scrooge and his three Christmas ghosts.

The first thing Melville (or Dickens) asks the audience to do is imagine that we are all sitting around a Christmas tree by the fire. Right away we all became part of an intimate party hosted by one of the world's more celebrated writers, and I could not think of any place I would rather be.

Melville goes page by page, ghost by ghost, across the pages of "A Christmas Carol." He has a different voice and body language for each character and successfully tells the story with the energy and animation of numerous people. Dickens himself was known for his love of the stage and very often performed his own works in front of audiences.

Melville captured the capriciousness of the author brilliantly, bringing forth all the curious eccentricity the writer was known to display. He was such a pleasure to watch, and it truly felt like we were all in the company of Mr. Charles Dickens himself.

Julia Aks, a proud member of the Independent Shakespeare Co. and the L.A. Opera Chorus, did a splendid job of working around her partner's quirks. She sang a beautiful Christmas carol before the second act that was just absolutely uplifting. Her flawless voice filled the room with spirit and brought a humble smile to the entire audience. Her elegant grace smoothed the rough edges of Melville's character, giving the production just the right sprinkle of femininity it needed.

The show was directed by Melissa Chalsma, also co-founder of the theatre group, and what a masterpiece she has created. She, along with Melville and Aks, captured the spirit of the holiday with this phenomenal production. From the brilliant acting, to the Victorian garb, to the minimal stage settings and props, everything fell together perfectly, resulting in a beautiful retelling of a literary work that has stood the test of time.

"A Christmas Carol with Charles Dickens" was presented at the company's studio, which offers a simple stage with limited seating. Their run this year was sold out very early on, which must be attributed to the renowned reputation of the company and the accolades of past performances, rather than the dimensions of the studio. Regardless of the reason, buy your tickets early next year, because this is a show you do not want to miss.

"A Christmas Carol with Charles Dickens" ran through Dec. 20 at the Independent Studio, 3191 Casitas Ave. #6, in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.iscla.org.

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