The musical, and much more buoyant, version of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” premiered on Thursday night at Kinneksbond.
Closely adapted from Charles Dicken’s indestructible novella “A Christmas Carol”, Leslie Bricusse’s “Scrooge! The musical” tells the same well-known story of a nasty man who hates Christmas (and most other things) but learns to love life and get into the festive spirit when he is visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and those of Christmas past, present and future.
It is, however, a less “dark” rendering of the classic tale, with a more likeable Scrooge and, of course, an extra uplifting touch thanks to more than 20 songs in the show.
Led by a flawless live orchestra and musical direction by Eric Gherardi, Pirate Productions’ 41 actors, singers and dancers (30 adults and 11 children) were directed by Philip Dutton. They formed a wonderful ensemble on opening night.
The lead was played by “veteran” Brian Parker, who many will remember from his brilliant performance in Oliver last year. Taking on the part of Scrooge is not an easy feat (he is on stage all the time and sings in 10 songs), but Parker came through admirably. Though it’s hard to dislike him, he makes a very believable Scrooge.
One of the most moving moments of the show was without a doubt was when Tiny Tim Cratchit sang “The Beautiful Day”. The wonderful voice of Noam Golergant completely mesmerized the audience, already taken by the genuine acting of the young prodigy. He was evidently born to be on stage.
Indeed, the whole Cratchit family was perfectly cast, led by a convincing Neil Johnson in the role of Bob, and accompanied by his wife (played by Rachel Parker) and children--special mention goes to the crystalline-voiced Eva Puc as daughter Kathy.
Of the show’s many songs, ‘Thank You Very Much’ was the toe-tapping highlight. Without the talented Simon Taylor-Kielty in the role of Tom Jenkins, the evening would certainly have been much less festive. He delightfully put the merry in Christmas, just as Mike West did in an all too brief scene as Mr Fezziwig. Other successful songs included ‘The Milk of Happiness’ number, while more poignant scenes featured one with Scrooge’s nephew Harry (played by Victor Bonnano, a beautiful singer) and his wife Isabel (played by Natasha Liati-Jones).
Backdrop projections were used for the set, and the way in which they were used for the appearances of the four ghosts (played by Steve Wilkie, Erin Boggs, Alex Teligadas and Marina Tomasic) might not have convinced everyone. There were a few technical glitches along the way, but they allowed for appreciably quick scene changes that kept the storyline flowing nicely.
The superb costumes were, however, what brought the real Dickens atmosphere to the show, and here there was not a false note. The choreography by Dominique Vitali was another strong feature, and the whole cast performed it flawlessly.
Some might think that it’s still a little too early to get into the Christmas spirit (it’s not!), but they will take comfort in the more philosophical side of Scrooge and remember to ‘Love while you can’ and ‘Make the most of this world’. Which is, of course, also a way of keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year round!
“Scrooge! The musical” is at Kinneksbond until 12 November. There are still a few tickets left.