(NEW YORK, NY) -- George Street Playhouse and producer Hunter Arnold unofficially kicked off the holiday season early with the announcement that a special filmed version of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic A Christmas Carol starring one of the finest stage actors of our time, Tony Award® winner Jefferson Mays, will be released worldwide on Saturday, November 28. This streaming video event will benefit George Street Playhouse as well as other community, amateur, regional theaters across the country which have been devastated by the pandemic.
Directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Michael Arden, adapted by Mays, Susan Lyons, and Arden, and conceived by Arden and Tony Award nominee Dane Laffrey, the filmed version is based on the wildly acclaimed 2018 production which made its world premiere at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse.
“George Street Playhouse is thrilled to join Producer Hunter Arnold on this nationwide event” said George Street Playhouse Artistic Director David Saint. “These are extraordinary times and the opportunity to present a virtual version of this acclaimed performance is exactly what we need this holiday season. This wonderful production of a beloved classic tale, and featuring Tony Award Winner® Jefferson Mays."
“As not-for-profit theaters continue to produce and present high quality virtual content, we are honored to participate in this nationwide opportunity to stream one of the holiday’s favorite titles -- A Christmas Carol," said Kelly Ryman, Managing Director of George Street Playhouse. “Theaters throughout the nation are offering this virtual production which promises to bring cheer to all who see it.”
Tickets for A Christmas Carol are available to purchase via George Street Playhouse.org. It is available until January 3, 2021.
Jefferson Mays said, “A Christmas Carol was my first experience of living theater. My mother and father would read it out loud every year. My father would tell the story with clarity and humanity, while my mother, eyes ablaze, would transform into the characters, from the tortured Jacob Marley, to little Fan and the entire Cratchit family. Both, in their ways, created magic. And now here we are, aspiring to bring this magic to people across the country during this challenging time.”
Michael Arden said, “My theater career began when I was a 10-year-old Texan playing Tiny Tim in the Midland Community Theatre production of A Christmas Carol. In a time when theaters and arts workers across the country are in great need, bringing a story that celebrates the power of creativity, community, and our shared humanity is humbling.”
Hunter Arnold said, “Due to COVID-19, the country’s theaters have lost over 80% of their income, a number that is devastating to our community. These theaters, the work they produce, and the artists and workers they support are a fundamental part of our society. We must fight for their survival.”
George Street Playhouse is a partner through a joint project between Arnold's TBD Pictures, La Jolla Playhouse, and On The Stage. Other partner theaters currently include Actors' Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Iowa Stage Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Sankofa Collective, Shea's Performing Arts Center, South Coast Repertory, Springfield Contemporary Theatre, Theatre Tallahassee, and Vermont Stage.
A Christmas Carol was filmed at New York’s United Palace, chosen to preserve the power of the theatrical storytelling Mays and Arden have created.
When it played the Geffen Playhouse in 2018, A Christmas Carol and was called “a stunning adaptation” by Jordan Riefe of The Hollywood Reporter, and “a tour-de-force performance by Jefferson Mays. Every bit of theater magic you can think of. You’ll find yourself transported – hanging on to every word and relishing every last image” by Anthony Byrnes of KCRW.
Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times raved that “Jefferson Mays not only got me to see A Christmas Carol, something I’ve vowed never to do again. But he got me to rave about it. For true theater lovers, there can be no better gift this season.”
Experience A Christmas Carol unlike any other – past, present or future. The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge comes to thrilling new life as Jefferson Mays plays over 50 roles in a virtuosic, master class of a performance that must be seen to be believed. This theatrical achievement comes from the haunting vision of one of Broadway’s most imaginative directors, Michael Arden.
Staged exclusively for this film and captured live with breathtaking clarity, this must-watch streaming event conjures the powerful spirits of Christmas and brings all the magic of live theatre home for the holidays.
The creative team for A Christmas Carol includes Dane Laffrey (scenic and costume design), Maceo Bishop (director of photography), Ben Stanton (lighting design), Lucy Mackinnon (projection design), Joshua D. Reid (sound design), Cookie Jordan (hair and makeup design), James Ortiz (puppet design), and Nikki M. James (assistant director).
A Christmas Carol is produced by Hunter Arnold with George Bamber, Kayla Greenspan, Carl Daikeler, Roberto Quiroz Mata, and Tom Kirdahy serving as Executive Producers for the film.
Jefferson Mays (Performer, Adaptor) has appeared at Geffen Playhouse in I Am My Own Wife and Yes, Prime Minister!. Broadway credits are Oslo, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Best Man, I Am My Own Wife, Pygmalion, Journey’s End and Of Thee I Sing. Off-Broadway, he has performed in Measure for Measure, Lydie Breeze, Quills and many more. Regional credits include My Fair Lady, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Cherry Orchard, Tartuffe, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale and Peter Pan. Film and television credits include “Perry Mason,” “Westworld,” “The Blacklist,” Joel Cohen’s Macbeth, “I Am The Night,” the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Inherent Vice, Rebel in the Rye, I am Michael, The Notorious Bettie Page, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “The Americans,” “Mildred Pierce,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Nurse Jackie,” “The Closer,” and “Dolley Madison.” Awards include Tony, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desks, Obies, Outer Critic’s Circle, Helen Hayes, Elliot Norton, Theatre World, Drama League, Jefferson, Dramalogue, and Helpmann. Mays received his B.A. from Yale College and an M.F.A. from University of California, San Diego. He is married to Susan Lyons.
Susan Lyons (Adaptor). After graduating from Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art, Susan worked extensively in theater, film, television and radio, playing a wide range of leading roles with all the major companies. She was awarded the Marten Bequest in 1993. Married to Jefferson Mays, she directed him in the national and international tours of I Am My Own Wife.
Michael Arden (Adaptor, Director) began his theater career at age ten playing Tiny Tim in the Midland Community Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol in Midland, Texas. He is humbled to be working with the singular Jefferson Mays and all the incredible artists and technicians – including his longtime friend and collaborator Dane Laffrey – on this reimagining of Charles Dickens’ masterpiece. Past directing credits include Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening (Tony nomination), Once on This Island (Tony nomination and the 2018 winner of Best Revival of a Musical), American Dream Study (with The Forest of Arden), Maybe Happy Ending, Joseph… at Lincoln Center, The Pride, Merrily We Roll Along, My Fair Lady, and Annie at the Hollywood Bowl. Arden is a regular director for “The Conners” on ABC and will direct the upcoming feature Book of Ruth starring Ruth Wilson and Matt Bomer. He is the Founder and a company member of The Forest of Arden, a collective of artists who create site-specific, immersive, and inclusive new forms of theater. He hopes Scrooge’s visitations might inspire us all to lead more empathetic and benevolent lives. God bless us, everyone!
Hunter Arnold (Producer) is a Tony and Olivier Award-winning producer. Select Broadway & West End: Hadestown (Tony Award); The Inheritance (Olivier Award and Tony nomination); Once on This Island (Tony Award); Dear Evan Hansen (Tony Award); Kinky Boots (Tony Award and Olivier Award); Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening (Tony nomination); The Visit (Tony nomination); Mothers and Sons (Tony nomination); Moulin Rouge! (Tony nomination); Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (Tony nomination); Tina—The Musical (Tony nomination); Betrayal (Tony nomination); Anastasia; Pretty Woman; The Jungle; The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?; Disaster!; It’s Only a Play; The Bridges of Madison County. Off-Broadway: Little Shop of Horrors (Drama Desk Award and Drama League Award).
In addition to his producing projects, Arnold is the founder of ARTech Holdings, LLC, an incubator and holding company focused on generating technologies to support the live arts community. Amongst ARTech’s offerings is the premier theatrical ticketing and web presence software for schools and small theatre companies, www.onthestage.com. Arnold is also a General Partner with the Broadway Strategic Return Fund, the first focused, vertically-integrated, profit-driven evergreen hedge fund for accredited investors to capture exceptional returns from investments in Broadway musicals and plays. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurial Business from DePaul University and his Master’s in Business Administration from TRIUM, a joint program representing NYU Stern School of Business, H.E.C. Paris and the London School of Economics. He is a frequent lecturer and guest professor on Entertainment Trends and Economics, Commercial Theatre and Working in The Arts.
About George Street Playhouse - Under the leadership of Artistic Director David Saint since 1997, and Kelly Ryman -- Managing Director since 2013, the Playhouse produces groundbreaking new works, inspiring productions of the classics, and hit Broadway plays and musicals that speak to the heart and mind, with an unwavering commitment to producing new work. As New Brunswick’s first producing theatre, George Street Playhouse became the cornerstone of the revitalization of the City’s arts and cultural landscape. With its 45-year history of producing nationally renowned theatre, the Playhouse continues to fill a unique theatre and arts education role in the city, state and greater metropolitan region.
Beginning with the 2019-20 Season, George Street Playhouse moved to the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center in downtown New Brunswick. Featuring two state-of-the-art theatres -- The Arthur Laurents Theater with 253 seats and The Elizabeth Ross Johnson Theater which seats 465-- and myriad amenities, the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center marks a new era in the esteemed history of George Street Playhouse.
Founded by Eric Krebs, George Street Playhouse, originally located in an abandoned supermarket on the corner of George and Albany Streets, was the first professional theatre in New Brunswick. In 1984, the Playhouse moved to a renovated YMCA on Livingston Avenue, and in 2017 took temporary residence in the former Agricultural Museum at Rutgers University during construction of its new home.
The Playhouse has been well represented by numerous productions both on and off-Broadway. In 2018, George Street Playhouse was represented on Broadway with Gettin’ the Band Back Together which premiered on the Playhouse mainstage in 2013. American Son, produced by George Street Playhouse in 2017, opened on Broadway in 2018 starring Kerry Washington and Stephen Pasqual, and appeared on Netflix. Other productions include the Outer Critics’ Circle Best Musical Award-winner The Toxic Avenger. In 2015, It Shoulda Been You opened on Broadway and Joe DiPietro’s Clever Little Lies opened off-Broadway. Both shows received their premieres at the Playhouse. Others include the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Drama League nominated production of The Spitfire Grill; and the Broadway hit and Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof by David Auburn, which was developed at the Playhouse during the 1999 Next Stage Series of new plays.
In addition to the mainstage season, the Playhouse’s education department provides extensive programming for children, youth and adults. Partnering with administrators and educators throughout New Jersey, the Playhouse provides unique education experiences that both reinforce classroom curriculum and investigate issues such as bullying, diversity, immigration, health and wellness, and the rising epidemic of opioid addiction.
George Street Playhouse programming is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Commissioners through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.
Production photos of the Geffen Playhouse production by photographer Chris Whitaker