Tis’ the season! Christmas has certainly hit Joseph Rowntree Theatre this week, as NE Theatre York brings a fresh retelling of A Christmas Carol to the stage.
A Christmas Carol is at Joseph Rowntree Theatre from Tuesday 28 November to Saturday 2 December.
We can always rely on director and producer Steve Tearle for his creative vision and immersive entertainment – and this could certainly be felt from the moment you walked through the gates of the theatre.
With the cast wishing you a Merry Christmas at every turn, bright lights leading to the doors and even the sound of bagpipes being heard from afar, you cannot help but feel a part of the production from the get go. This interaction only continued and climaxed at the end of act one – I can promise that anyone feeling tired as the dark nights take over, they will be wide awake once that mayhem ensues!
Whilst there was a varied range of abilities and talent on stage, one thing always remains with NE Theatre York and that is that it is family first always. This can be felt especially through the large ensemble numbers, where Tearle, Philips and Boyd manage to comfortably cram the cast of 60 onto the stage and inject energy and fun at the same time. From the Fezziwig’s Party to the grand finale, the cast looked like they were having a ball (literally), which is all you can wish for for an amateur theatre group.
The storyline is the traditional tale but with fresh twists along the way that either complimented or hindered the original creation, with music by the legendary Disney composer Alan Menken and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens.
Although we welcomed both the eccentric and traditional costuming and familiar set design, each scene did feel rather hectic – even during the more tender moments; this led to difficulty in communication and clarity throughout. There were also a few sound balance issues, where we struggled to hear soloists in their starring moments. Nevertheless they should all be very proud of their moment on the stage.
However, the star of the stage was clearly Scrooge himself (Kit Stroud), who had a great depth to his character and an extensive skill-set – from his tender singing, famous negative disposition and his story arc perfectly told, he stole the show. I found his relationship with Bob Cratchit (Kristian Barley) particularly endearing. And of course how can I review A Christmas Carol without mentioning Tiny Tim (Alice Atlang), who stole the audience’s hearts from her first limp onto the stage.
The interpretations of the ghosts are something new; whilst they still have the same familiar eerie presence, they also bring an unexpected humour to their mocking nature. Chris Hagyard as the Ring Master/The Ghost of Christmas Present really represented the overall feel of the show: a circus! Whether a 12ft Marley (Steve Tearle) floating through a sea of material, the Fezziwigs (Greg Roberts and Ali Butler-Hind) being more unhinged than ever before, or even a unicyclist appearing out of nowhere, there was always something unexpected around the corner.
If you are looking for the classic retelling, you may be in for a shock; but it’s definitely worth a visit if you are able to get your hands on tickets. A Christmas Carol at Joseph Rowntree Theatre is showing until Saturday 2 December – book quickly for your festive fix!
Tickets start from £16 and are available via the Joseph Rowntree Theatre website. The run is currently sold out but check the box office to see if any become available.