Kevin Jones is an actor's actor. Before leaving Memphis for New York, he did a little bit of everything, from Shakespeare and Shaw to Tennessee Williams and A Tuna Christmas. He wrote and performed original works, took part in holiday shows at Theatre Memphis, and even engaged in a bit of Gross Indecency at Playhouse on the Square. This week, Jones returns to Memphis to help an old friend and perform his critically acclaimed one-man version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
The old friend in question is David Foster, another of Memphis' most prolific and prized actors. Foster is an uncommonly versatile actor best known for standout roles in musicals like Next to Normal, Ragtime, Assassins, and his award-winning dramatic turn in the Horton Foote play Dividing the Estate. Foster's arched-eyebrow performances as Crumpet, the inappropriate elf, in David Sedaris' SantaLand Diaries were definitive. Only Sedaris himself does it better. On a good day. Maybe. When Foster took time away from the stage, and from his day job cutting hair, to fight a tough battle with cancer, he was determined not to let the illness define him. But Jones is hard to resist, and his proposal was a unique opportunity to help Foster help himself. Donations from this free performance all go to cover the cost of Foster's chair rental at La Nouvelle Salon.
"I'm calling the event, 'Put my BFF back to work,'" says Jones, describing an act of kindness that might appeal to old Scrooge both before and after his miraculous conversion. "If we can cover the chair rental, he gets to keep 100 percent of what he makes while he's getting back on his feet."
Jones, who often played Scrooge's nephew Fred in Theatre Memphis' annual Carol, is drawn to the enduring story because of its message and possibilities. His performance is lifted directly from Dickens' own reading text, with only a few amendments.