Newtown Arts Company adds to the warmth of the holiday season with the production of SCROOGE THE MUSICAL. Easy enough to figure out…a musical version of Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol”, a novella which was first published in 1843. This early Victorian period in history had a strong nostalgia for Christmas traditions and the introduction of new traditions like Christmas trees and greeting cards. The story had warmth, life and joy as well as despair, coldness, sadness and death.
Leslie Bricusse wrote the book, music and lyrics for this musical adaptation. Bricusse has written over 30 musical shows and films. He has won 2 Oscars out of eight nominations, a Grammy out of 6 nominations and eight Novello awards. He has contributed such memorable songs as “Candy Man” and “What Kind of Fool am I” both big hits for Sammy Davis Jr. , “Talk To The Animals” and “Goldfinger”. Some of his musicals besides SCROOGE include “Stop The World I Want to Get Off”, “Victor/Victoria” and “Jekyll and Hyde”.
Mary Liz Fitzpatrick Ivins directs a large cast including some charming little ‘urchins’. She has a good eye for staging, creating very pleasant vignettes on stage, some like perfect little greeting cards as in the opening of the show. She has also done some of the set design which I liked a lot. Cleverly executed and pleasant to watch the changes from scene to scene. Well done. Tom Jenkins, played by Scott Fegley, acts as narrator and greets us with a proper British accent , well dressed complete with top hat – he does a great job through out the show. Stuart Myles plays Scrooge with high energy, animated in his facial expressions as well as body movements. The Ghost of Christmas past, Agnes McKernan, in such a lovely costume and a performance to match, showing warmth, joy and life as well as sadness and coldness. Kudos for Jack and Liam ( who stole the audience’s hearts). Sarah Cohn as Isabel, gave a lovely subtle performance, dreamy and appropriate as is her voice. Little urchin Brayden Wilson did a great job. John Wolodzko as the Ghost of Christmas present has nice stage presence and a strong deep voice.
The cast and especially the dancers. are all very animated and enthusiastic throughout the show. All the little urchins were charming and not just stage decoration – they all were singing. Viva Connor is a real stand out in the teen category with a beatiful smile and high energy. Avril Necowitz likewise plus some wonderful dancing!. Bill Sismour as Mr. Fezziwig and Jill Laurinaitis as Mrs. Fezziwig make an attractive pair on stage. Laurinaitis does the choreography as well and it was very well handled. Really enjoyable – especially in “December 25th”. The four piece orchestra is just wonderful; one of the real highlights of the evening. I liked the costuming on the dancers that came in with Ghost of Christmas Present and his costume as well.
I do have a few little comments on costuming. All in all it was very well executed but I do feel a little tweak here and there and a bit more attention to detail would have pushed it closer to excellent, not just for the costuming but for the effect it gives to the entire production. I did not like the way Scrooge was costumed; he looked too disheveled for my taste. His pants were too big and suspenders (never a belt) in this time period are appropriate. He needed a vest. Some white (or grey) in the beard and hair would go a long way to establish an appearance matching his performance.
Overall I enjoyed the show and so will you! A terrific way to start the holiday…and a terrific town to do it in.
SCROOGE: THE MUSICAL
by Leslie Bricusse
Directed by Mary Liz Ivins
Produced by Marcia Wittmann
December 4-10, 2014
Newtown Arts Company
120 N. State Street
Newtown, PA 18940