Written by Patrick Chavis
Christmas time is over but that doesn’t stop the influx of Christmas plays, especially that Classic Charles Dickson play, A Christmas Carol (we reviewed three this year but couldn’t make them all). I’ve seen the movies, watched the plays, seen the Christmas straight to TV versions. There is definitely no shortage of creative versions here. Musical Theatre Villages version, entitled ‘Scrooge’ is a welcome addition to the every-growing lexicon of Christmas Carol adaptions with catchy music, exceptional performances by a few and a fun-filled laid back spirit that makes this a perfect show for the entire family.
First off this review will be out after the show’s curtain is drawn. Still, I implore you to give this small little Theater in Irvine a chance next Christmas if you’re looking for a good family friendly play. Scrooge is an adaption but at its heart it’s really just a Christmas Carol. The story is about miser and all around bad guy Ebenezer Scrooge who’s forgotten all about the ultimate importance in life. Now what makes Scrooge special? It’s the music. Scrooge is a musical and though there are moments of pure acting the play is at its best when being sung. The story is moved along not by Scrooge but by lovable young teenager Tivoli Treloar (played by a boy) who has the power to appear and disappear in the story whenever he wants too. This narrator acts as an extra spirit guide for Scrooge and the audience. Treloar does an excellent job and adds a much needed bit of comedy to a show that honestly would make the average kid bored in the first ten minutes. This version also adds a much needed Christmas message, that while giving is an important part of Christmas, it is not everything and we should also take the consideration the importance of family/friends and the bonds we make with each other.
Scrooge played by Gary Severen is fantastic. Severen is solid acting wise as a vile character and this adaption thoroughly explores his character’s backstory as he begins to compensate for his ways. Severen’s singing on the other hand was not my favorite and comparably he is a much better actor than a vocalist. When it comes to singing, Jennifer Noce, singing “I Forget My Name” practically made me forget where I was. Every-time she sings she controls the room. Young Ebenezer compliments her well making it one of my favorite songs of the play.
The set is pretty none existent as the stage is practically covered inch to inch nearly the entire time with almost the entire cast for a good majority of the play. While creativity in the set isn’t too apparent, they were creative in other ways-namely the costuming used on the spirits, especially Jacob Marley and the spirit of Christmas Future. Marley has a fun dance song called “Drag You Under, Drag You Down”. A glow in the dark chained up Marley and skeletons dance and sing on stage, while tormenting a fearful Scrooge. The Ghost of Christmas future is performed by a six foot if not taller, puppet with a pretty creepy recorded audio voice.
Musical Theatre Villages Scrooge has pulled off the incredibly challenging task of directing a mixed production of kids and adults and succeeded in pulling of some truly amazing moments, that blew me away.
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