This first section refers to the one man show The Night Before Christmas Carol in which I played Charles Dickens and about a dozen characters from the famous story. I collaborated with the renowned Victorian Literature scholar and lecturer Elliot Engel and with Tim Morrissey, then the Artistic Director of The Temple Theatre in Sanford, NC. It was Tim's idea and he directed and produced it. I performed the show over five seasons in 1996-2002 and in three different venues. Fresh Vision Films recorded it for DVD release.

                     This is a full review from Bill Morrison of the Raleigh News and Observer:

                       Dickens does double duty in two very different productions

                                By BILL MORRISON, Staff Writer                 


                                     RALEIGH -- As the English would say,       

                                "The Night Before Christmas Carol" is a

                                right treat, a fanciful retelling of Charles  

                                Dickens' most famous story as revealed         

                                through the writing of it. Jeffery West       

                                stars as the man who invented Christmas in     

                                this production at Peace College. West's       

                                work is so riveting that the play seems less  

                                a one-man show than an ensemble piece

                                performed by a skilled company of English players.

                                     The audience watches Dickens at work behind the

                                locked doors of his study as he coaxes forth the

                                characters who will people his great tale of love and

                                redemption in 19th-century London. Like timid mice, the

                                characters emerge. But mice can roar, to the delight of

                                the author. He tests out the characters before a mirror.

                                In one vignette, he holds up a human skull, a substitute

                                for the skinflint Scrooge.

                                     Like West, Dickens was an eternal child, a man of

                                the theater. And the two are well met here in a

                                production as handsome as a Victorian valentine. West

                                plays a dozen characters (there are 22 in the novel),

                                including Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the boy's outspoken

                                mother. He dons a dust cap to become a giggling harpy. A

                                curtain tie approximates the chains wrapped around

                                Marley's waist.

                                     West gives each character its own voice, look and

                                walk. But most memorable is the Dickens he conjures, a

                                child of poverty who never forgot seeing his father

                                locked away in a debtor's prison.

                                     London provides the backdrop for this play, as it

                                did for Dickens' novel. For Dickens, the city was a place

                                of night and fog that did not treat the poor kindly. The

                                author's long, nocturnal rambles remind him of the fate

                                he escaped.

                                     In this play by Elliot Engel, Dickens is the equal

                                of any of his characters. He was a serious man, but also

                                known for his humor. The running joke in the play is the

                                author's ear for good lines and titles for his novels.

                                     This play marks a triumphant end to West's most

                                successful season ever -- remember he gave an

                                award-worthy performance in the Manbites Dog Theater

                                production of "How I Learned To Drive" and followed that

                                with a ravishing production of "Arcadia," which he

                                directed at Duke University.

                                     Kids will love this intimate evening directed by Tim

                                Morrissey, who staged the original production at the

                                Temple Theatre in Sanford. I suspect that many people who

                                see this production will want to read Dickens, watching

                                wonderfully eccentric characters tumble off the page to

                                take up residence in our hearts.


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