Hi, I'm Morgan! I'm a twenty-something theater critic and writer (which really just means I've been a Theater Kid my whole life but now I'm an adult) based somewhere between Baltimore and Washington DC. 

Hopefully, I can help you discover a new show or the next song that will be stuck in your head for weeks on end.

I've been a theater writer since 2016, and I'm so excited to share my passion for the arts with you! Happy reading!

Welcome to Intermission!

Me in front of the harbor that houses the Statue of Liberty in New York City

Review: “A Christmas Carol” Brings the Holiday Spirit(s)

The holiday season is in full swing, bringing with it a myriad of familiar songs and cheerful tales. But in a sea of talking snowmen and glowing reindeer noses, the story of a grumpy old miser in Victorian England has stood the test of time. Arguably one of his most famous works, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has become a mainstay holiday classic and has since inspired several adaptions, often which are full of Christmas cheer.

But director and actor Paul Morella’s one-man production of “A Christmas Carol” at the Olney Theatre Center took things in a new, or, rather old, direction. Now in its 12th year of performances, Morella’s production tells the spooky ghost story as Dickens wrote it, and contains 99.5% of the original text.

Paul Morella

As Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, he is forced to confront those around him and his selfish, hateful ways. Dressed in a traditional Victorian suit, Morella takes on dozens of characters, and easily slips back and forth between them with an impressive use of inflection and facial expressions. There’s no doubt that he is a dynamic storyteller and talented actor, and each scene is clearly distinguished from the last. But perhaps there is a reason most theater companies and modern adaptations do not use the original text anymore?

With all due respect, the original text of Dickens’ 1843 novella, is, how shall I say, very...descriptive. And each one of these long, convoluted sentences is included in Morella’s adaptation. Now, I’m all for scene setting, particularly in a one-man production with very few visual changes on stage. But a 15 minute exposition devoted just to describing the people in the scene and the layout of the house is a bit much, especially for the end of Act 1. What is often the most dynamic, edge-of-your-seat moment in a production was the slowest, sit-back-in-your-chair part of the story.

Paul Morella

As with any one-person story, the technical elements of this production are especially critical in convincing audiences they are being visited by spirits and walking the streets of Victorian England. Thankfully, lighting, sound, and projection designers Sonya Dowhaluk, Edward Moser, Justin Schmitz, and Patrick W. Lord, respectively, are up for the challenge. With clever background sounds and eerie lighting techniques, it is easy to believe the stage is in fact haunted with ghosts bearing warnings of loneliness and damnation.

Paul Morella

As a whole, the production is a good one, albeit a bit slow at times. In a time when human connection is more important than ever, Dickens’ message of kindness and generosity is exactly what we need. But maybe leave the little ones, and anyone else with a short attention span, at home.

“A Christmas Carol” runs at the Olney Theatre Center through December 26, 2021. Run time is two hours with a fifteen minute intermission, and tickets can be purchased here.

Note that this production makes use of fog effects and strobe lights.

All photo credit to Teresa Castracane Photography