Review: A Christmas Carol delivers an early gift to the city

Bah, humbug! An unbelievable Scrooge
28 Nov 2013 @ 9.26 am
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Bah, humbug! An unbelievable Scrooge
Bah, humbug! An unbelievable Scrooge

Review: A Christmas Carol: The Musical by We Are Theatre
Venue: Joseph Rowntree Theatre, November 28

The Christmas spirit is alive and well as evinced in York last night at the opening performance of A Christmas Carol at The Joseph Rowntree Theatre, or should I say spirits!

The classical tale was brought to life via a mix of narration, acting, song and dance by a talented troupe of amateur performers who played to a packed house.

Scrooge himself is played by 19 year old Harry Revell. My daughter refused to believe he was only 19 as he put on a convincing grumpy old man performance, although at one point he was seen to perform a rather youthful jig across the stage.

The narrator, Adrian Spendlow, stands at the side of the stage under a Victorian gas lamp looking more like a Hairy Biker than a Victorian gentleman, resplendent with his whiskers and waistcoat, and boasting a fantastic broad Yorkshire accent that made me smile.

The stage setting is very simple at times, often with cast members miming actions like eating and preparing food, but it worked well.

The backdrop was painted by Bill Askin who made his debut performance on the stage playing the role of the jolly Mr Fezziwig; I’m told Bill is in his seventies, he did a great job.

Costume of the night has to go to the Ghost of Marley, played by John Laville, it really was effective, and when he popped his head out of the door in his first scene more than one audience member jumped!

Part of the story is narrated by the ghost of Scrooge’s sister Fan, played by Olivia Jayne Newton. She has a solo where she sings and plays the guitar, she has a beautiful voice, and it was a simple yet stunning performance.

Paige Parkinson plays the young Fran alongside Finlay Dunlop as young Scrooge, and their voices blended beautifully in their duet.

Young Maggie Wakeling, last seen starring as Alice In Wonderland, takes on the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past.

She has a good future ahead of her judging by her solo at the end of the first act. Her voice sounds so much older, and she gave an excellent performance.

God bless Tiny Tim. And his dad
God bless Tiny Tim. And his dad

The show is a real contrast with its Victorian speech yet almost modern musical arrangements, yet it works well – although at times as good as the band was, they overpowered the singers.

There’s a very large cast in this performance, not only filling the stage, but making the most of the auditorium as well. On several occasions audience members were surprised by cast members entering the stage from the aisles, often times bearing gifts of sprigs of holly or mince pies.

This was an entertaining performance of a Christmas classic, and although the majority of the songs were unknown that didn’t stop my daughter singing one of them nonstop after the performance!

This is definitely a family show, with an audience made up of at least three generations, and everyone found something they enjoyed in it.

The cast may have been amateurs but their performance was enthusiastic and full of energy.
There are two performances left, Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29: get yourself along and enjoy, and remember…

…God bless us everyone!