Virtual ‘Christmas Carol’ starring UCSD grad Jefferson Mays will benefit La Jolla Playhouse and other venues

Jefferson Mays stars in "A Christmas Carol."
Jefferson Mays stars in a virtual one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Mays co-wrote and will play all the roles in the filmed adaptation of the Charles Dickens holiday classic.


Jefferson Mays, a UC San Diego-trained actor known for his ability to play multiple characters at once, will take on all of Victorian England in a filmed version of his one-man stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The online production is being presented as a fundraiser for La Jolla Playhouse and several other theaters that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The video will be available for streaming Nov. 28 through Jan. 3.

Mays earned a Tony Award in 2004 for playing 40 characters in the solo play “I Am My Own Wife,” which got its start as a Page to Stage workshop at La Jolla Playhouse in 2001. He also earned a Tony nomination in 2014 for playing nine members of the same family in the musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”

He will play about 50 characters in “A Christmas Carol.”

La Jolla Playhouse
The online production of “A Christmas Carol” is a fundraiser for La Jolla Playhouse (pictured) and other theaters that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mays, who earned a master’s degree in acting from UCSD in 1991, wrote the adaptation for the Dickens play with his wife, actress Susan Lyons, and director and co-conceiver Michael Arden. The film version is based on the 2018 stage production at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.

Mays said he has a deep connection to Dickens’ redemptive 1843 novella about the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and the visits he receives from the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future.

“‘A Christmas Carol’ was my first experience of living theater,” Mays said in a statement. “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.”

Arden launched his theater career at age 10 with “A Christmas Carol,” when he played Tiny Tim in a community production in Texas.

He said proceeds from the video will be divided among the beneficiary theaters, which range from small community ensembles to large regional organizations like La Jolla Playhouse. All have lost more than 80 percent of their revenue since the pandemic began.

Tickets to watch the film are $50 and can be purchased at ◆

— Pam Kragen is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune