The universality of A Christmas Carol has never been more evident than in the 
Celebration Theatre’s fabulous new GAY adaptation of the Charles Dickens 
classic. There have been numerous previous adaptations of ACC for “niche” 
audiences. An imdb search turns up The Muppet Christmas Carol, Mickey 
(Mouse)’s Christmas Carol, Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol, An All Dogs Christmas 
Carol, a Diva’s Christmas Carol, A Flintstones Christmas Carol, Skinflint: A Country 
Christmas Carol, Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol, A Carol Christmas (with Tori 
Spelling as Carol), The Jetsons Christmas Carol, Brer Rabbit’s Christmas Carol, and 
A Sesame Street Christmas Carol. Now, at last, the gay community has a 
Christmas Carol it can call its own.

The Celebration’s adaptation retains the original title and, gratifyingly respectful 
to Dickens, keeps much of the original’s dialog. However, in converting Ebenezer 
Scrooge to a more contemporary sounding Ben Scrooge, fashion maven and 
head of S & M  Fashion House (S&M, get it?), and in surrounding him with a bevy 
of fabulous gay and gay-friendly supporting characters, writer/director Jason 
Moyer has concocted a deliciously fresh creation which will delight (and move) 
not only its target audience, but hopefully a straight (but not narrow) one as 

Ben Scrooge is as anti-Christmas as Ebenezer ever was, though this Scrooge is 
wont to exclaim “Pshaw!” in place of “Humbug” and is always dressed to the 
nines, though still in black, naturally. Right away is never good enough for 
employer Ben, who fires kowtowed employees right and left. He’s quick with the 
bitchy insults as well, telling Bobby (Cratchit), “You learned to sew last week and 
you were taught by a blind lesbian!” When Ben Scrooge utter his famous, 
“Whoever goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be buried with a 
stake of holly through his heart,” Fashion Queen Ben takes a giant hat pin and 
stabs it into a large red pin cushion.

Scrooge still has a nephew, Fred, who brings presents to Scrooge’s place of 
business, and invites him for Christmas dinner, but the pair of charity workers who 
ask Scrooge for a Christmas donation have become an older gay man and a 
cute young twink.  After Scrooge sees Marley’s face in his door knocker, he 
blames it on some “undigested bit of beef…or some bad sushi.”  Marley’s ghost 
wears not only “the chains he forged in life” but zippers, safety pins, and 
measuring tapes. Told that he must meet each ghost one by one, Scrooge asks, 
“Can’t I just take them all at once…like a ghost orgy?”

Clearly this is one Christmas Carol that a gay audience will eat right up.

But audiences of any persuasion should get a huge kick out of the fantabulous 
Ghost of Christmas Past, an African American drag queen, her 70s Gloria Gaynor 
afro adorned with poinsettias and her pink and red gown bedecked with red 
and silver sparkly garlands. When Diva/Ghost tells Scrooge, “We gotta hustle,”  
it’s a cue for…you guessed it, the 70s disco hit.  Can you sing along with the 
refrain? “Do it!  Do it!”

Scrooge revisits his past, seeing himself as a sissy boy whose homophobe of a 
father belittled him for liking to draw dresses. Fortunately, teenage Ben Scrooge 
found true love, not with a girl named Belle, though, but with a handsome lad 
named Beau.  Ben and Beau loved old Fezziwig’s parties just as much as 
Ebenezer and Belle did, entertaining the guests dressed in drag as gay elves 
Mary and Carol (that’s Mary Christmas and Christmas Carol).  On a more serious 
note, when Beau breaks up with Ben, telling him that he is no longer the boy 
Beau fell in love with, Ben’s life having become consumed with greed and 
selfishness, the scene is straight out of Dickens, and very moving at that.

There are many fabulous performances in this Christmas Carol.  (Excuse my 
frequent of the adjective, but this is a gay Christmas Carol after all.) First and 
foremost is Celebration regular Michael Taylor Gray, proving his range in this very 
different role.  It’s hard to believe that Taylor Gray is the same actor who 
became Judy Garland circa 1969 in Judy at the Stonewall Inn, originated the 
Baptist sissy who morphed into Iona Traylor in Del Shore’s Southern Baptist Sissies, 
and was beauty queen Miss Deep South in Pageant. Taylor Gray’s bitchy Ben 
Scrooge truly could give Devil Wore Prada’s Meryl Streep a run for her money, but 
the actor also conveys Ben’s growing awareness of the selfishness of his life, and 
later brings out Ben’s boyish glee at being given a second chance.

Ronn Jones is a divalicious Ghost of Christmas Past. (Jones, like all in the cast save 
Taylor Gray, essays numerous roles.) Jason Boegh is sweet and charming as both 
Bobby Cratchit and nephew Fred’s gay friend Dick.  Christopher Grant is very 
good as Fred and as young Ben. Michael O’Hara has an amusing scene as one 
of a trio of office workers gossiping about Scrooge’s death. Gay theater vet 
Bobby Reed is, yes, fabulous as Marley, and as the older charity solicitor.  Cute 
newcomer Jacob Hibbitts is adorable as the always eager and excited younger 
charity solicitor, among other roles. Thia Stephan and Juliette Angeli bring 
beauty, elegance, and fine singing to their multiple roles, and are a delight as 
Scrooge’s greedy servants, one a ditzy New Yorker and the other a vapid Valley 
girl, who plan to sell Scrooge’s belongings on Ebay. Matt Marsh is a sweet and 
sincere Beau, and later makes a strong impression as the Ghost of Christmas 
Present, a muscular go-go boy garbed in a holly bedecked pair of pale green 
mini-overalls. The cast is completed by Carl Moebus as Fezziwig and Uncle Tim. 

Yes, in Moyer’s Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim has been replaced by Uncle Tim, an 
older, seriously ill counterpart (without health insurance), which allows the 
playwright to get serious about issues such as ageism, health care, and HIV. 
There’s a very touching scene in which Uncle Tim talks about meeting a woman 
with advanced terminal cancer who is joyous just to be alive for another 
Christmas, a scene very much in line with ideas expressed in Dickens’ original 
tale, and which allows the reformed Scrooge to declare, “What a wonderful 
man, to feel so blessed when he is so ill.”

Michael Matthews has designed a simple but effect set, basically a sky blue 
upstage backdrop surrounded by black wings, and a paint speckled floor.  
Mobile clothes racks become walls and doors, as well as…clothes racks. In one 
particularly ingenious moment, a sheet is hung between the two racks to form a 
door, and when, a la Dickens’ original, the door knocker is supposed to turn into 
Marley’s face, the actor playing Marley simply lights his face with a flashlight and 
presses it up against the sheet. Clever, effective, and funny.  Celebration’s 
resident costumer Marjorie Lockwood has come up with dozens of creative 
designs, most notably those worn by the ghosts and the gay elves.  Tim Swiss’s 
lighting is an integral part of the design team’s work; in one particularly effective 
moment, Scrooge is lit by a single spot, alone center stage, as he awaits the 
coming of the first ghost. Tiffany LaBarbera supervised music and sound, the 
vocally talented cast being called upon to sing various Christmas favorites 
including “Last Christmas,” “All I Want for Christmas (is You),” and “Have Yourself 
a Merry Little Christmas,” and also to provide various ghostly choral effects.

At Saturday’s post-opening night performance, some of the cast members did 
fluff a line here or there.  Hopefully a few more performances will remedy that.

Adapter/director Jason Moyer has written in the program notes that until now, 
“no one has really presented a story for our community.  This is my attempt to 
give us a holiday story.”  Seeing that no previous Christmas Carol has amused 
and moved me as much as this one did, I’d call it a very successful attempt 

Celebration Theatre, 7051 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.

–Steven Stanley
December 8, 2007
Photos: Maia Rosenfeld

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