Bless Us, Every One!

Bless Us, Every One!

T2’s ‘Christmas Carol’ everything good about live theater


I am unforgivably late writing this — but not to write it would be an even greater sin. “A Christmas Carol” was the first streaming performance I have watched from TheatreSquared, and I must tell you, it was not at all what I expected. It was, instead, everything I could have wished for.

I have resisted watching T2’s online productions, thinking they could not in any way impart the magic of live theater. “It’s just another movie,” I thought. And I don’t particularly like movies. I want to BE there, to see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, be swept up in it, to laugh, to cry, to wait breathlessly for what’s next.

But I love Bryce Kemph on stage (2019’s “A Christmas Carol,” “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Champion”) and I wanted to see how he and Courtneay Sanders Irish (“Amadeus” and “Hamlet”) could take all of Charles Dickens’ characters and bring them to life without benefit of costume changes, set changes — or, for that matter, an audience. And so I popped on my headphones, sat down at my computer, and thought, “Well, I’ll watch 10 minutes of it. And then I’ll know.”

The only things missing were taste and smell. I laughed, I cried, I was swept up in it! I waited breathlessly to see what would happen next. And it filled my heart in a way nothing else has since March 2020, when I saw the last live theater of the year at Arkansas Public Theatre.

The premise — in what is really a new adaptation by Bob Ford and Amy Herzberg, not just an updating of last year’s — is that two librarians, Mr. Heaps and Miss Trilling, are about to leave the library on Christmas Eve when she discovers his secret. The eighth copy of “A Christmas Carol” — the one she didn’t know existed — is wrapped up in his scarf for him to sneak out of the library. And so she admits to him that the seventh copy — the one that had gone missing — was misfiled in the Ms so she could read it herself.

Bryce Kemph portrayed Mr. Heaps, a librarian, along with Scrooge and many other characters in the 2020 TheatreSquared production of “A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Amy Herzberg and Bob Ford and directed by Herzberg.
(Courtesy Photo)

Because a blizzard has trapped them in the library, they launch into the story, propelled by Miss Trilling’s enthusiasm, until finally Mr. Heaps buys in. There are no high-tech ghosts, no flying, no graveyard, no fog. There are just two actors, with huge hearts and even bigger talents, telling the tale as though they love it more than anything imaginable. Eventually, the library building itself joins in, and the Christmas spirit flows around them as though by magic.

And magic it is! Both Kemph and Irish are consummate professionals who honestly could not have brought more to their characters. I did not forget that I was sitting in front of a computer screen. It simply didn’t matter. And yet, it wasn’t like a movie — did I mention I don’t really like movies? — because it felt immediate and alive and intimate and all the wondrous things I have craved desperately for almost a year. I missed only the company of a friend to turn to and share the joy and the chance to leap to my feet to applaud.

It is too late for you to see “A Christmas Carol” this time around, and for that, I heartily apologize. But I’m writing this to tell you that if you long for live theater, if your world has been a little colder and a little emptier and a little sadder because you’ve been without it, try the next streaming production at TheatreSquared. Really. It will bless you, every one.

Becca Martin-Brown is an actor, a director and a lifelong lover of theater, in addition to being editor of The Free Weekly. Email her at

Categories: Theater