USER (09Feb06): excellent show..loved every minute high lightfor me was my little boy playing tiny tim
USER (29Nov05): Shane Richie in “Scrooge”
Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Monday 28 November 2005
Book, music & lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Based on “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
Christmas came early to the Alex last night, not only did it snow in the afternoon but it was the opening of the festive favourite “Scrooge” starring Shane Richie. Whilst well known to many for his long running character Alfie Moon in the BBC soap “EastEnders” Shane has an impressive musical theatre background having starred in “Grease” and “Boogie Nights”. It came as no surprise to me that he was superb as Ebenezer Scrooge and the audience loved his portrayal of the old miser from the minute he walked on stage.
The show scores highly both visually and musically, the entrance of the ghostly Jacob Marley played by James Earl Adair is frightening as is the appearance of the five phantoms who join him to sing “Make the most of this world” and this sets the scene for the visitations of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.
Sheri Copeland was delightful and gently reflective as Christmas Past. The happy musical and dance number “December the Twenty-Fifth” set at Mr & Mrs Fezziwigs Christmas party contrasts perfectly with the miser’s view of Christmas and shows off the company at its best.
The larger than life Ghost of Christmas Present was played commandingly by Anthony Stuart Lloyd whose robes were dazzling. The song “I Like Life” was uplifting with its “Milk of Human Kindness” and makes for a colourful and spectacular close to Act 1.
Act 2 opens with a rousing overture and the fast moving show includes both sentimental songs such as Tiny Tim’s “The Beautiful Day” and the joyous “The Minister’s Cat” which again shows off the cast at its best. But the standout was “I’ll Begin Again” delivered by a repentant Scrooge having been visited by the gigantic and daunting Ghost of Christmas Yet to come, played by Chris Gosling.
Director Bob Tomson gets the very best out of his talented cast and they work so well together. The children and students from Stagecoach Theatre Arts, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield are a joy. The choreography is excellent with sparkling routines. The illusions in the show come from Paul Kieve the man behind the magical effects in the new Harry Potter film. The sets designed by Paul Farnsworth are excellent and conjure up Victorian England with its markets, street vendors, ladies, gentlemen, urchins, poverty and wealth.
Musical director David Steadman and his musicians bring to life Leslie Bricusse’s score wonderfully. All in all a great night out and one in which Shane Richie shows why he is one of the best musical theatre stars around. The show runs until Saturday 3 December 2005 so don’t miss it!