SCROOGE THE MUSICALBook, Music & Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Adapted from the film "Scrooge" and Charles Dickens' tale "A Christmas Carol"
Artisan Center Theater
Produced by Dee Ann Blair
Directed by Dee Ann Blair & Eve Roberts
Stage Managed by Adam Livingston
Musical Direction by Richard Gwozdz
Choreography by Jennifer Leyva
Props by Tammie Phillips & Chris Seil
Costumes by Rebecca Roberts
Set Design by Dee Ann Blair & Branson White
Scenic Painting by Shelby Mac & Lily Stapp-Courtney
Lighting Design by Robert Molina
NOTE: This show is double cast. Cast listed is for performance
on 11/21/2011 at 7:30 pm. Primary & supporting roles as
program listed are below. Many cast members also play
various party guests, townspeople and urchins:
Ebenezer Scrooge - Mark Winter
Jacob Marley - Andrew Chard
Bob Cratchit - C.E. Gerdes
Kathy Cratchit - Alison Borish
Tiny Tim - Brayden Gerdes
Mrs. Ethel Cratchit - Michelle Gerdes
Peter Cratchit - Hayden Caywood
Martha Cratchit - Parker Gerdes
Belinda Cratchit - Mary Strauss
Christmas Past - Lauren Smith
Christmas Present - Kirk Corley
Christmas Future - Paul Borish
Isabel/Helen - Lauren Morgan
Young Ebenezer/Harry - Brian Sears
Mr. Fezziwig - Travis Miller
Mrs. Fezziwig - Cheryl King
Dick Wilkins - Tevin Cates
Tom Jenkins - Wilson Garrett
Bess - Morgan Gerdes
Reviewed Performance: 11/21/2011
Reviewed by Richard Blake, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
SCROOGE THE MUSICAL is a 1992 stage musical with book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Its score and book are closely adapted from the music and screenplay of the 1970 musical film Scrooge starring Albert Finney. Bricusse was nominated for the Academy Award for the song score he wrote for the film, and most of those songs were carried over to the musical.
Like the film, the musical closely follows the plot of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, in which the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of a Christmas Eve night after being visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
The original production starred Anthony Newley as Scrooge, and opened on November 9, 1992 at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham. The American premiere opened on October 26, 2004 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre in Chicago. This production starred Richard Chamberlain in the title role.
Most know the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghostly evening of self reflection but this adaptation will definitely surprise you. The story is the same and the presentation by Artisan is very entertaining. You'll leave the theatre smiling, and with probably more than one song stuck in your head! ("I Hate People" is still in mine).
The Directors, Dee Ann Blair & Eve Roberts, create nice stage pictures with their large casts. The space is in the round, and they use every bit of square footage available to them! From the smallest scene with Scrooge and a ghost to an ensemble performance with the entire cast, the Directors present the story and scenes in a very good way. It is well directed and I'm sure quite a daunting task with a cast that large. Consistent dialects were a problem. Getting them all on the same page with British accents will never be perfect but when the accent gets dropped, it becomes distracting.
The music direction by Richard Gwozdz and choreography by Jennifer Leyva work hand-in-hand and are both well done and entertaining. I'd love to shake the hand of Mr. Gwozdz for his work. It is a very difficult task to teach harmonies and musical innuendo to small casts, let alone two very large ones! He makes very good choices and assignments, making the songs being sung a pleasure to listen to. The chorography deserves notice too. Many of the ensemble scenes are well done and flow appropriately. The party scenes, large townspeople scenes and toy ballet seem a bit rougher than others, but overall are entertaining. Again, with that many people, a job well done to Ms. Leyva.
Mark Winter as the title character Scrooge elicits a performance that is entertaining, energetic and full of diverse emotion including miserly! He carries this role and the story completely through with wonderful choices between sarcasm, humor, and as the story goes? love, eventually, in his soul. He is a pleasure to watch and fear. His interactions with the audience are wonderful as well. All the audience were smiling or fearing his next move. His
performance is stellar and casting was well done by the directors.
C.E. Gerdes as Bob Cratchit is a pleasure to watch. He plays the dutiful employee of Scrooge with passion, and well thought out presentation. From cowering when asking for his due pay to wishing the old miser a "Happy Christmas, Mr. Scrooge" with a resistant smile, Mr. Gerdes takes you through the story in ways the original playwright would surely be pleased with. The rest of the Cratchit family - Alison Borish as Kathy Cratchit, Michelle Gerdes as Mrs. Ethel Cratchit, Hayden Caywood as Peter Cratchit, Mary Strauss as Belinda Cratchit, and of course Tiny Tim played by Brayden Gerdes, all do a great job of playing the hard life, but blessed family of Bob Cratchit. I do have to single out little Brayden as Tiny Tim in his lovely song "The Beautiful Day".
He pulls at your heartstrings with his charming smile and beautiful young falsetto male voice. It's pure, moving, and such a pleasure to see and hear. Bravo Brayden!
Jacob Marley, played by Andrew Chard, is true to the story and did entertain. However he does seem to struggle a bit vocally and seems a little "off" in this performance. In fairness, there were some major technical problems during his scenes (i.e. lighting cues were off, and low-lying fog issues) that I believe were a major factor, but overall, his performance is good and judging by the kids in the audience, very convincing.
Brian Sears as both Young Ebenezer and Harry provide a stellar performance! His vocals are wonderful, his stage presence draws you in, and his choices for his character are spot on. His voice carries through the theatre wonderfully and provides some of the most beautiful harmonies in the production. He makes obvious character splits in playing dual roles, and you believe him as another person when he portrays them. Great casting, again, of this role by the directors, as this young man is definitely a pleasure to watch on stage!
The ghosts of Christmas - Past, played by Lauren Smith, Present played by Kirk Corley, and Future by Paul Borish, all bring forward enjoyable performances. Ms. Smith offers sensitivity to the role that is refreshing but also adds a bit of admonishment to Scrooge when appropriate. She is a pleasure to watch and involved me in the story. Mr. Corley is electrifying in his role of Christmas Present! His energy, character driven movements, gestures, facial expressions and overall presentation are wonderful. He provides a thoroughly exciting experience to watch. Mr. Corley commands the stage, as his character should, and keeps you involved with that contagious smile and laugh!! Mr. Borish as Future does a nice job also with his stage presence. Any actor will tell you it's easier to perform with dialogue than without, and he does that very well. His slow movements and intimidating stature are wonderful, and that outstretched hand pointing to Scrooge's "future" will be something you'll always remember.
Artisan is an approximately 100 seat theater-in-the-round that had very good attendance for a Monday night performance. Upon entering the theatre I was very impressed at the scenic painting of the entire space by Shelby Mac & Lily Stapp-Courtney. The detail, depth and artistry are stunning! Even the floor of the space is painstakingly painted in brick and cobblestone and you immediately feel as if you are in 1800's London. A standing ovation goes to these artists and their amazing work!
Scenic design by Dee Ann Blair and Branson White is attractive, functional and works well for the space. Some of the scene changes are during very well lit lighting cues across the space and are distracting. A minute or two prior to the scene or after will be much less of a distraction. Also, using the muslin/curtains for scenery is effective. However, back stage lights and flashlights can be seen and might distract the audience away from the performances.
Robert Molina's lighting design is effective and dramatic. It seems as if lighting cues are being missed and/or skipped and does affect the performers and scenes. On more than one occasion performers are completely in the dark running the scene while another area is lighted, or the entire stage is dark. Also, the special effects need to have some glitches worked out. Using low lying fog is an amazing effect, especially during "ghostly" scenes, but allowing it to come up to the first row audience member's shoulders is way too much.
Not credited in the program is the Sound Designer, but operators Phyllis Huaute and Debbie Vaden do a good job with cues and most sound levels. The music is tracked and sometimes is a bit overpowering during solos and duets but overall is acceptable. There was unfortunately some popping sounds during some of the beautiful songs. Live theatre always has interesting evenings, technically, and the one I attended had them? but that's why it's called LIVE!
The costumes by Rebecca Roberts are elaborate, as I mentioned, and fit the production very well. The women are layered and are beautiful, with great detail being paid to the headpieces of the time period. Men are very dapper and charming with just as much detail and attention given to them as the women. The rest of the cast are all adorned well and each one is costumed appropriately and effectively. I wish Christmas Future was more frightening or Death-Like. It
seems as if he was not given as much attention, and as a character with no dialogue, I believe he should be a bit more daunting in costuming.
Overall, the ensemble is very entertaining, energetic and always seem to be in character and enjoying themselves. A few that do stand out to me are Wilson Garrett as Tom Jenkins who exudes unbridled energy, has great facial expressions, and holds his own in large ensemble scenes, led by his vocals, with the talent of a seasoned performer. Ellen Borish as Jocelyn Jollygoode, whose performance still makes me smile when I recall it, with her great reactions and wonderful body language. She took a minor role and makes it memorable.
Jameson Taylor as Topper, with his perfect British accent, great exuberance, smiles and reactions, makes me really believe his character in his scenes. Overall the entire cast presents a good performance and works well together.
Artisan Center Theater's current production of SCROOGE THE MUSICAL is an entertaining family night out for the holiday season.
Artisan Center Theater, 418 E. Pipeline Road, Hurst, Texas 76053.
Runs through December 23, 2011
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays (Except Thanksgiving), Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30
pm, with Saturday matinees at 3:00 pm
Tickets are priced $12 - $16 for adults, with discounts for seniors, students and children 12 and under.
Tickets are available online at www.artisanct.com or by calling 817-284-1200.