Classic Dickens tale gets tuneful turn

‘A Christmas Carol: The Musical’ ends run two days before holiday

Posted 11/20/18

Snow-frosted windows make up a curtain/backdrop for Town Hall Arts Center’s appealing production of “A Christmas Carol: The Musical,” which runs through Dec. 23. It’s an ideal family show, …

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Classic Dickens tale gets tuneful turn

‘A Christmas Carol: The Musical’ ends run two days before holiday

Posted

Snow-frosted windows make up a curtain/backdrop for Town Hall Arts Center’s appealing production of “A Christmas Carol: The Musical,” which runs through Dec. 23. It’s an ideal family show, though tiny people might be frightened by the required ghosts.

Dickens’ classic story is set to music by Broadway regulars Alan Menken (music); Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) and Ahrens and Mike Ockrent (book) — and has a very pleasing score, starting with a cast rendition of “London Town Carol.”

We immediately meet Ebenezer Scrooge (Stephen Turner), standing outside his door — frowning, watching the happy carolers and muttering his famous “Humbug!” line. “Charity is what the wealthy do on Christmas Eve,” he comments. “Every idiot who goes about with `Merry Christmas’ on this lips should be buried in his own plum pudding!” His grumbling goes on as a man asks him for money. “Are there no prisons?? Let them die and decrease the surplus population!” No doubt about this guy! Might he be helped to feel a bit better about his world?? Therein lies a beloved story!

Turner’s portrayal of Dickens’ prickly man is especially well done, I think, kept a bit low-key as he gradually learns to let his guard down. Expressive eyes and face will go a long way — without a great many words.

Experienced director Bob Wells has orchestrated the whole production to be mostly upbeat, but with soft edges.

The choreography by Kelly Kates is especially well thought out, given a large cast (27) and Town Hall’s small stage. With input from Ghost of Christmas Present John Mackey (who is also dance captain), there is suddenly a jolly tap number that delighted the audience and even got old Scrooge moving his feet! Nice touch.

Who on earth can be cranky about wee Tiny Tim? (Petite Kyriana Kratter is a third-grader who has participated in St. Luke’s UMC theatrical productions.) She plays the little boy with a crippled leg, carried by his devoted father, Bob Cratchit, who is Scrooge’s poor clerk. Cratchit and his family are a fairly constant presence in the background, preparing for a meager Christmas dinner … They can only afford a small chicken as they shop.

Small scenes like their shopping excursion are cleverly staged, with the suggestion of a poultry seller popping up and quickly disappearing … Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig’s festive holiday party flashing by, Scrooge’s parents appearing briefly as we see young Scrooge as a child, young adult Scrooge in love and his transition into an unhappy old man, whose business partner, Jacob Marley, has died.

Music and dance continues throughout, interspersed eventually with a noisy visit by Marley’s ghost, followed by the Ghosts of Christmas Past … Christmas Present … and Christmas Future. (The best part, according to a 12-year-old guest.) Each ghost brings a message, readers will remember …

This story is so much a part of our literary fabric, that one wants to see a different version to consider/enjoy how these particular theatre artists decide to tell it. There are so many ways …

This “Broadway” version, with its musical telling, offers a delightful evening, where young and older walk out smiling happily. Choreographer Kelly Kates commented about how pleasant it seems, after “all the ugliness we’ve heard recently.” She’s right on about added reasons to enjoy an evening with Ebenezer Scrooge!

And the colorful costumes and well-blended voices carry the story, which ends just as we know it will: “God Bless us, every one!”

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