If the thought of Christmas being a few short weeks away has you groaning ‘Bah Humbug’, it sounds like you need a bit of Scrooge in your life.
Overflowing with festive spirit and with costumes straight from a chocolate box, the tale of A Christmas Carol, rewritten as a musical by Leslie Bricusse, is all the joy of the festive season wrapped up in some show-stopping melodies and tied with a glitzy bow.
The well-loved story from the pen of Charles Dickens was written as a warning to his fellow Victorians who failed to find the pleasure in Christmas – and although the lesson comes from 150 years ago, it still looms large today, encouraging us to plan for a festive season filled with love.
Aptly, Phoenix Theatre brings their whole family to the stage in this show, the adult performers joined by a cast of youngsters from Phoenix Youth, playing roles including the Cratchit children, and adding extra volume and cute factor to the sparkling chorus numbers.
Scrooge is spreading Christmas cheer
From the opening bars, Scrooge is full-on Christmas, with carol singers belting out the first song A Christmas Carol, while the musicians, under the leadership of Kevin Haggart, produce a fitting Salvation Army-band sound, complete with brass and double bass, filling the Arts Centre Theatre with sound and thrilling the capacity audience.
Directors Liz Milne and Clare Haggart, along with choreographer Katie Baxter, work their magic with the talented cast, conjuring up ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, along with full bustling street scenes and evocative memories of Scrooge’s school days, parties and his loves and losses.
With the help of a magical video wall, the scene changes easily from toy shop to snowy street and Fezziwig’s factory dance to Harry’s parlour games, along with creating phantoms and special effects to enhance the ghostly apparitions sent as a warning to Scrooge.
As the old miser, Colin Campbell loses himself in the role, creating a strong central character who is by turns terrifying, haunted and drunk on the milk of human kindness.
Talented cast bring magic to the stage
He is especially lovable at the end when he makes a very believable Father Christmas, belting out the song I Like Life and earning himself a huge cheer from the appreciative audience.
In supporting roles from Bob and Mrs Cratchit, nephew Harry, the ghosts, and Scrooge’s lost love Isabel, there are many performances which stand out, but it is when the cast is together on stage for the full and sumptuous chorus numbers Christmas Wishes, December the 25th and Thank You Very Much, that the magic really happens.
Think I’ll go and put some mulled wine on … and where are those mince pies?
Catch Scrooge at Aberdeen Arts Centre until tomorrow (Saturday) night.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without it.