At this festive season of the year, Freeport Factory Stage is endeavoring to provide a little holiday cheer with a rendition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol ” that elevates storytelling to an art.

As children, we all had at least one relative, or family friend, who knew how to make the printed word leap off the page and into our imagination. People and places vividly came to life in our mind’s eye.

Broadway veteran Will Rhys is that favorite storyteller. With only two chairs, a stool and an old-fashioned desk, Rhys magically conjures up the world of Dickens’ beloved Christmas tale. It’s amazing what he manages to do with those four objects, but ultimately it’s not the props that capture the imagination. It’s his voice and mannerisms.

As he tells the story, Rhys becomes all the characters, often transforming into multiple characters within the same conversation. And, he recites almost all the dialogue and narration from memory.

Rhys was engaging and animated Friday night as he told Dickens’ miraculous tale. One minute he was the miserly Scrooge, declaring Christmas a “humbug.” The next, a small child singing Christmas carols at the door of his counting house.

A myriad of characters appeared for the audience’s pleasure. A portly businessman, Marley’s slack-jawed ghost, a cockney-accented laundress, three life-altering spirits and Bob Cratchit with his large family were just a few of the many that sprang from Rhys’ imagination. All appeared without the aid of costumes.

Rhys’ delivery was well timed, eliciting laughter from the well-known story, as well as heartfelt emotion. His performance was spirited and infectious.

Over the years, Rhys has been involved with countless productions of “A Christmas Carol.” In his bio, he refers to it as “one of the greatest stories ever told.” He regales readers with entraining reminisces of renditions where Marley’s chains were lost and the prop boy ate the Cratchit dinner. His bio is entertaining and well worth a read.

Rhys’ love of Scrooge’s tale of redemption was obvious from moment he walked on stage Friday. His eyes twinkled, and there was a spring in his step. His lively delivery of the narration made Dickens’ descriptive words pop from the page, painting vivid, tantalizing images for the audience.

Freeport Factory Stage’s presentation of “A Christmas Carol” is a holiday treat for all ages. Story time is no longer just for children. The production offers adults a rare opportunity to indulge their imagination with a consummate storyteller who definitely knows how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possesses the knowledge.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

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