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A Christmas Carol

Date

22nd November 2018

Society

Vane Tempest Theatre Group

Venue

Seaham Town Hall

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Keith Armitage

Musical Director

Ben Wardropper

Choreographer

Debbie Finkel

Report

Author: Oeter Oliver

A Christmas Carol in my opinion is not only Charles Dickens best novella but for me it’s probably one of the best stories ever written and the version that Vane Tempest Theatre Group chose as their Christmas performance is probably one of the best interpretations of this all-time classic, with book and lyrics by Chris Blackwood and music by Piers Chater Robinson this spectacular performance certainly put me in the Christmas spirit “pardon the pun”. Under the competent direction of Keith Armitage he certainly worked the group to ensure that they showcased a professional and audience pleasing performance. Ben Wardropper did a sterling job as the musical director ensuring that this fantastic score was beautifully delivered with some stunning rich harmonies. Choreography this year was in the able hands of Debbie Finkel who produced some appealing movement and dances to complement the story line. The set was well designed and certainly complemented the performance, well done to Ben Southwick, Emily Harrison, Will Spencer and Josh Baker for their skills in stage management the changes were well executed and seamless, sound was good provided by Colin Berry, Dave Dunbar and Kim Storey and the lighting was well designed provided by Matthew Lowery it certainly created the different moods in each scene and gave an additional dimension to the set. Finally I must mention the costumes by Alan Graham these provided a strong visual support to the story and reflected the visual style of the production and helped to portray the individual characters

There were some fine performances from this talented cast, I loved the opening number “Christmas Cheer” where Keith Armitage alias Charles Dickens open the show setting the scene and kept a careful watch over the performance interacting and narrating throughout the production. Playing the lead role was Nick Thompson as Ebenezer Scrooge, Nick looked transformed with clever make up and costumes he personified the mean spirited character and  put in a believable and commanding performance he was rarely off the stage and  never came out of character from the opening scene to the bows, this was an excellent demanding performance and truly believable and entertaining, his physical performance matched his vocal excellence as he worked tirelessly to deliver his beautiful numbers both with the cast and as solo numbers, my favourites were “Shillings, Pound And Pence” with the character Bob Cratchit, “Am I The Man” and my favourite number “Turn Back The Clock” which was beautifully delivered and very emotional.  Young Ebenezer and the  Drunk was played by Corey Clarke again good interpretation of both characters and excellent stage presence I loved the scene between  Ebenezer and young Ebenezer reminiscing the past their duet “Remember” was beautifully sang with excellent harmonies and well delivered by these two men. Scrooge’s first ghost was that of his partner in life Jacob Marley played by Helen Southwick, Helen delivered a commanding performance with excellent characterisation and I loved the costume, her musical number “Link By Link” with Scrooge and the tortured souls was well received and confidently sang with a nice choreographed routine. Scrooge’s next visitor was the ghost of Christmas Past this character was confidently played by Gemma Parnaby who took Scrooge back to shadows of things that have been, again good characterisation and stage presence and a confident musical number “Shine A Light” Katrina Wake delivered a beautiful performance as the Ghost of Christmas Present, this young lady never fails to impress me, and again turned out another cracking performance, lovely interaction between the character and Scrooge and a very convincing and lively musical number “Drink It In”, Whilst we never saw the face of the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come the programme informed me the part was positively chillingly played by Ian Dodd who looked suitably creepy and silently malevolent. Playing the role of Scrooge’s clerk Bob Cratchit was Ben Wardropper, a solid confident performance with good interaction with both Scrooge and his on stage family I loved the musical numbers “Good Things Come” sang with Tiny Tim and “God Bless”, playing Mrs Cratchit was Laura Geary who also played Mrs Dilber both very different characters but Laura was able to put her acting ability into action and deliver both these characters with conviction. Playing the Crachit children were Emma Grundy as Martha, Charlotte Dodd as Petra, Erin Lisle as Belinda and Jessica Geary as Tiny Tim all these young actors put their hearts and voices into their characters there were some excellent chemistry between them all with the scenes full of warmth and they were able to catch the essence of what A Christmas Carol is all about, not wanting to single anyone out but I must mention Jessica her interpretation of Tiny Tim, she portrayed this character with such emotion and feeling, lovely vocals and confident stage presence, someone to watch for the future. Playing Scrooge’s nephew Fred was Richy Petre’ a solid performance and some lovely scenes played out with Scrooge, playing his wife  and Belle Scrooge’s young fiancé’ was Natassia Cole she delivered a strong performance as both characters and I particularly enjoyed her musical number “Heart of Gold” which was sang and delivered beautifully . Two remarkable characters came in the form of Mr and Mrs Fezziwig played by John Reay and Suzy Wake these larger than life characters were both jolly and animated and certainly knew how to make the most of their performance and use of the stage their Christmas party scene was delightfully choreographed and I loved their musical number “The Pride Of The Ball”. Great characterisations from Scrooges housekeepers Mrs Dilber played by Laura Geary and Mrs Filch played by Lindsey Southwick very entertaining and great portrayal of these two Dickensian characters I loved their musical number with Scrooge “The Man Is Mad” and the scene with Old Josie played by Ashleigh Hallimond as the three ladies barter over selling Scrooges belongings to the musical number “Just Deserts”. There were some interesting cameo roles in this show all of whom contributed to the success of the production well done to John Casson who played young Marley and Lamp lad, a confident performance from this young man, Julie Ann Marshall as the Poulterer, Susan Armitage as the School Matron, Carolyn Adgar as the distressed Lady and  last but not least Toni Harrison as formidable Mrs Bilikin great performances all of whom supported the principals in ensuring that the scenes flowed seamlessly .  Congratulations also to the ensemble Harriet Adgar, Mia Parnaby, Francesca Lundie, Debbie Finkel, Laura Collinson, Susan Casson and Susan Ancliff all of whom contributed to the success of this wonderful and entertaining musical. A great production and a very entertaining evening well done to everyone at Vane Tempest Theatre Group.