At this time of year, Scrooge is as reliable as mince pies and mistletoe – 175 years since Dickens published his ghost story, A Christmas Carol remains as ubiquitous as ever over the festive season, with new productions appearing in their droves, but you’re unlikely to see another amateur show quite like the performance from BOST at the Royal Court, it is as close to a professional show as I have seen. A Christmas Carol the Musical written by the Broadway composer Alan Menken premiered at the Paramount Theatre, Madison Square Gardens, in December 1994.
Tony Prince, does a wonderful job as the penny-pinching Scrooge employing a great deal more characterisation than you may find in other musical theatre performances. Tony brought a comic element to his interpretation of this cantankerous Dickens character, adding to his fine performance. Mark McManus plays Scrooge’s down trodden clerk Bob Cratchit with great warmth, he sings beautifully. He is accompanied by the sweetest Tiny Tim in Matthew Burke.
As we all know this story so well, the ghost of Jacob Marley is eagerly anticipated, maybe the use of the trap door would have had a more dramatic effect. Marley played by Frank Nance delivered an impressive performance as the chain dragging partner and only friend to Scrooge warning him of what was to come. Gina Phillips is divine as the Ghost of Christmas past, using her flowing cape to full effect, while Michael Pearson brings terrific energy adding a party atmosphere to proceedings as the ghost of Christmas Present. A fine performance here, for me a show highlight. Transforming the begging blind old hag played by Linzi Stefanov to the Ghost of Christmas yet to come was inspired, very well done.
Praise must go to Director Karen Partington who makes full use of the Royal Court’s 9m revolving stage to transport Scrooge through the three trials of his visiting ghosts. Sarah Walker’s excellent choreography was stunning her ensemble pieces are clever and engaging and bring something special to the show. The detail, particularly in the big group scenes is stunning, the Punch & Judy show, various stallholders selling their wares, street vendors, and the cheery Gaiety Theatre actors all added to the festive atmosphere. This performance is a visual treat with sumptuous costumes stunning song and dance numbers from its talented 70 plus cast. There is an underlining sense of humour cutting through this production which is contagious.
I must mention Chris Simmons as Mr Fezziwig and Rebecca Nielson as Mrs Fezziwig they steal their scene with larger than life performances as the host and hostess of the best party in town, their contribution to act 1 was tremendous. Their rat- a tat- tat number was glorious. Cole Boon playing Ebenezer age 12 with Maya Rugen as Fan sang ‘A Place Called Home’ beautifully, showing confidence and talent far beyond their young age. Musical director Tricia Gaskell is to be congratulated on drawing out a top-notch vocal performance from not only the principals but the chorus too, there is great musical ability in depth in BOST. The chorus should also be congratulated, looking around, I could see each little group have their own story going on, which is always important. Their harmonies were good and they all looked to be having really great fun.
Thank you to you all for a wonderful evening’s entertainment. I look forward to your next production.
Joanne Rymer. NODA