Friday through Monday, Dec. 21-24 — "Scrooge! A Magical Musical" fills Randall Theatre's pocket-sized stage with all of the well-known characters — and then some — from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," the story of a bitter, miserly, Christmas-hating banker who is redeemed by visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
"Scrooge! A Magical Musical" fills Randall Theatre's pocket-sized stage with all of the well-known characters — and then some — from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," the story of a bitter, miserly, Christmas-hating banker who is redeemed by visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
Directed by Don Tull, Randall's production is based on Leslie Bricusse's screenplay and music for "Scrooge," a 1970 film version of the Dickens' tale, starring Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge and Sir Alec Guinness as Jacob Marley's ghost.
Tull ably is assisted by some talented Rogue Valley theater veterans. Daniel Grossbard stars here as Scrooge. Grossbard is an accomplished actor, and even at Scrooge's most ridiculous, he delightfully stays in character. He doesn't have a trained singing voice, but he does a credible job with the musical numbers.
The rest of the production is held together by Peter Wickliffe, as the soup peddler Tom Jenkins, and Jonathan Oles, playing both Scrooge's all-forgiving nephew and the young Ebenezer. Wickliffe has a strong voice and is especially engaging leading the big production number "Thank You Very Much," where Scrooge's neighbors celebrate his premature death, released from their debts to him. Oles shines in the beautiful song "Happiness," as the young Ebenezer falls in love with his employer's daughter, Isabel.
Robin Downward, Randall Theatre's executive director, plays both Marley's ghost and the Ghost of Christmas Present with commanding presence. David Sours does a fine job as the earnest Bob Cratchit. Jessica Dutra shines as Ebenezer's lost love. Julia Chavez appears in two strong roles: the Ghost of Christmas Past and Mrs. Cratchit. And the young Ben Franklin is especially appealing and sweet-voiced as Tiny Tim. They are enthusiastically aided by the remainder of the 15-member cast.
The production's musical backing comes from prerecorded music, which mostly works, though at times it comes out loud enough to drown out the singers, especially during Tiny Tim's big solo, "The Beautiful Day."
Debbie Downward has provided serviceable, simple and energetic choreography for the many characters onstage.
Costumes are by Gigi Michaels, and she generally makes the most of basic, 19th-century top hats and waistcoats for the men and dirndls and caps for the ladies.
Her costumes do, however, go a bit over the top for the all-important spirits that appear to Scrooge, take him on his journey and, basically, scare him into seeing the error of his ways. Marley appears carrying more chains than a semitruck during a snowstorm on the Siskiyou Summit, and his face seems to be covered by a flour sack. The Ghost of Christmas Future is a black-clad and masked version of Darth Vader. The Ghost of Christmas Past (who turns out to be Scrooge's beloved sister) owes more to a Scandinavian ice queen than a Victorian matron. And the Ghost of Christmas Present seems to be an elaborately red-and-green-bedecked reincarnation of the Greek god Bacchus.
The kids in the audience just loved it all. The set design by Tull, Downward, Rick Hazen and Vienna Mathiesen utilizes a stylized brick wall surmounted by a large, monochrome drawing of the skyline of London. It could have used less brick and more skyline to be truly effective.
Performances are set for Friday through Monday, Dec. 21-24, at the theater, 10 E. Third St., Medford. Curtain is at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, at 1 p.m. Sunday and Monday.
General admission is pay-what-you-want; reserved seating costs $12 and is available at www.randalltheatre.com or by calling 541-622-5795.
Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.