A Christmas Carol

Date 1st November 2012
Society Urmston Musical Theatre
Venue Urmston Leisure Centre
Type of Production Musical
Director Christine Meadows
Musical Director Ed Nurse
Choreographer Sally Wild

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

"A Christmas Carol" written in 1843 is one of those stories which never seems to go out of fashion!

The Dickens classic has found its way into every possible artistic medium and now, Urmston Musical Theatre are here with  "A Christmas Carol, The Musical," it has certainly been given a gleeful and colourful boost by its adapter (Chris Blackwood) and composer (Piers Chater Robinson),  it’s got warmth and childlike vitality.

This is a full-out, stage-crowded show that breaks into song right away. I was surprised with the amount of upbeat numbers for a story of this nature, I had preconceived ideas of what I imagined the show would be and this wasn’t it, I imagined it to be darker and spookier, it is a ghost story after all. I suppose I was expecting it to have a not too dissimilar feel of ‘Oliver!’ about it, I’d say it was leaning more towards the Muppets version of the tale (which I love) in that it’s more fanciful and jolly in the way it’s told.

Credit to the Director – Christine Meadows – as the pace was excellent as the scenes move very quickly and changeovers were slick.

Gary Hocking led the cast as Ebenezer Scrooge, he didn’t play what you’d expect from the character we all know. Yes, we got the “humbugs” and all the recognisable lines stating to “put the poor and needy into prisons” etc. but this was delivered as comedy and less of the vile man we love to hate, the comedy softened the evil making him appear less horrid. The problem this caused was we didn’t see much of a transformation into the Scrooge full of merriment, there wasn’t enough contrast between the two.

The musical is narrated by Dickens himself who pops up now and then to keep us all in check. Ian Drake played the likable and magical storyteller with tenderness and mystery.

Other notable performances were Leo Fernandez-Arias as the charming Tiny Tim who didn’t fail to light up the room with his “God Bless Us, Everyone” and Daniel Mellor gave a good character performance as Jacob Marley.

My highlight moment was the number ‘Remember’ as Scrooge duets with the actor playing his younger self (George Bissett). This was a lovely moment and to anyone who my think this tale would not pass as a piece of musical theatre, this number would be the one to challenge that thought!

I can’t deny that the choreography by Sally Wild left me a little uninspired, during full company numbers the ensemble were left to mime chatting and nod agreeingly at each other for too long, I cannot be alone in noticing the same three girls danced the same sequence in the same formation three times! 

Alan Pickwick’s set was brilliant, twisting from interior to exterior with ease which added to the flow of the piece beautifully.

A lot of microphone ques were missed, I appreciate that having a large cast bouncing on and off stage constantly can be difficult for the sound guys to follow but It’s also difficult as an audience member to follow the production when microphones get turned up mid-sentence if at all.

The 9 piece band under the direction of Ed Nurse did credit to the new songs, they sounded impressive and were another helping factor in keeping the pace and flow of the show moving along!