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, the plays, and the Christmas straight-to-TV versions. There is no shortage of creative versions here. Musical Theatre Villages version, ‘Scrooge,’ is a welcome addition to the ever-growing lexicon of Christmas Carol adaptions. With catchy music, exceptional performances by a few, and a fun-filled laid back spirit, this a perfect show for the entire family.
First, this review will be out after the show’s curtain is drawn. Still, I implore you to give this tiny little Theater in Irvine a chance next Christmas if you’re looking for an excellent family-friendly play. Scrooge is an adaption, but it’s just a Christmas Carol at its heart. The story is about miser and all-around lousy guy Ebenezer Scrooge who’s forgotten all about the utmost importance of 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 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 to. This narrator acts as a different 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 integral part of Christmas, it is not everything. We should also consider 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 nonexistent as the stage is covered inch to inch nearly the entire time, with almost the whole cast for most 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 nature 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 pulled off some truly unique moments that blew me away.
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