A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE MUSICAL, 3Star***, London, To 31 12 16

Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Mike Okrent & Lynn Ahrens.
3Stars ***

The Lost Theatre, 208 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2JU to 31 December 2016.
23, 28, 29, 30 December 7.30pm
22, 13, 29 December 3pm.
31 December 2pm.
Runs 2 hr One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7720 6897.
Review: William Russell 21 December.

All singing and dancing Dickens
The Christmas spirit is overflowing at the Lost Theatre in this Alan Menken musical version of Charles Dickens’ famous story. The show used to run at the Paramount Theatre, Madison Square Gardens, New York every Christmas – the run started in 1994 and ended in 2003.

The result, well staged and performed at the Lost Theatre, is a serviceable version of Dickens’ tale although personally I prefer the Bricusse one which Tommy Steele used to do from time to time. Menken’s version is very American – it is their idea of what Dickens’ London should look like – and the plot is devised to lead into a whole series of set piece musical numbers which seem to never reach a climax and which interrupt the story.

The result is as English as say Mary Poppins, a show which invented a London Americans believe existed all quaint urchins, chimney sweeps and gents in top hats strolling before indulging in a knees up.

The cast at the Lost Theatre throw themselves into the task of performing the material with a will, there is a handsome set, some nice lighting effects, and pleasing costumes and everyone sings along to pre-recorded music remarkably well.

But those endless dance routines add nothing to the show, hold up the action so that Scrooge’s journey to redemption gets lost in the tinsel and knees up goings on. In addition each ghost – all nubile ladies and not in the least terrifying – has her big song and dance routine with everyone charging on in droves just when you think it is going to stop to do more hoofing while Scrooge watches happily from the sidelines. The Santa Clausettes, who turn up at one point, are very odd indeed.

By the time seven year old Arthur Tidbury as Tiny Tim announces the traditional blessing one is beginning to feel a little more Dickens and a lot less Broadway. Arthur, making his stage debut as the other Dickens child most people wish to strangle after Little Nell, is so delightful that things end happily enough. Piers Garnham makes a good stab at being grumpy as Scrooge, although lumbered with Menken’s worst songs and the fact he is sidelined from the action repeatedly. The best song in the show, Christmas Together, is reprised at the end thus sending everyone out brimming with good cheer. As a Christmas offering it works well enough, and Dickens is great enough to take what has been done in his name. But one did feel at times like shouting “Bah humbug”.

Scrooge: Piers Garnham.
Bob Cratchitt: Toby Joyce.
Mrs Cratchitt: Michal Horowicz.
Fred Anderson: Alasdair Melrose.
Sally Anderson. Imogen Hunter.
Mr Fezziwig. Hugh Hastie.
Mrs Fezziwig. Rachel Dobell.
Mrs Mop/Scrooge’s Mother. Catriona Trainer.
Marley. Richard Lounds.
Ghost of Christmas Present/Sandwich Board Woman. Rebecca Westbury.
Ghost of Christmas Past/Lamplight. Katrina Winters,
Ghost of Christmas Future/Blind Hag. Jessica Finn.
Young Marley. Teos Alchimowicz.
Scrooge at 18. Joe Brown.
Emily. Natalie Morgan.
Grace Smythe. Ella Tidbury.

Young Scrooge/ Oli Tidbury.
Very Young Scrooge. Arthur Tidbury.
Fan Scrooge. Ella Tidbury.
Tiny Tim. Arthur Tidbury.
Jonathan. Oli Tidbury.
Old Joe.Kyarna Shea.
Ensemble. Georgina Leigh Patrick, Ellie Jeffreys, Charlie Burt.

Directors. Martin John Bristow & Mark Magill.
Musical Director. Randy Smartnick.
Choreographer. James Thacker.
Production Design. Mark Magill.
Costume Design. James Thacker & Mark Magill.
Lighting Design. Martin John Bristow.
Scenic Art. Ella Wheway.
Makeup. Ewa Korda,

2016-12-22 19:05:01

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