HUDSON -- The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future that visit him is a tale many know well, but they’ve never seen it like this.
The Phipps presents a lively, unique take on the classic in “A Christmas Carol: The Radio Show,” a one-man performance. The show, directed by John Potter, premiered on-stage in November, and was then released for online viewing for a time in December
When the voice actors and musicians for the show are stuck due to a snowstorm, one man, the sound engineer Bob, steps in to ensure the sound goes on. He provides all the voices, the narration and the sound effects in a more than hour-long performance.
It is truly an impressive feat of acting.
The role was taken on at different times by Charlie Shoemaker and Mike Tober. In the filmed version, Shoemaker is a delight. The voice changes are remarkable, the different accents and tones and at times subtle changes creating an entire cast of characters out of one man. It’s also fascinating to see the different sound effects used, from a box of rocks for the rumble of carriages to actual curtains to draw back.
The play kicks off right away with humor, as Bob addresses the audience and explains the situation the station is in. That fun high-energy stays through the whole performance, continuing until the final bow. The audience watches as Bob flips through pages of script, changes his voice in fast-paced, multi-person conversations and moves across the room to manage all the side effects, often at the same time. The character has a few missteps, to the audience’s benefit, but Shoemaker’s performance is spot-on.
Watching it all unfold onstage in the play is captivating, but it’s also interesting to close your eyes and experience it, if only for a few moments, as the radio show it’s performing as. Doing so creates a moment of authenticity, when you’re not thinking about the techniques but instead hearing only what they’re producing.
The mood of the play feels relevant for the current times. As we watch one man put on a classic in an unexpected storm, and as we ourselves are able to enjoy that classic despite the ongoing unknowns of the pandemic, we are reminded of the resilience of our human spirit and the ability to find the good in even the most difficult of times.