Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Scrooge - Liverpool Empire

Writer:Leslie Bricusse
Based on Dickens' A Christmas Carol
Director: Bob Tompson

Reviewers: Sarah & Reece O’Toole
And Julie & Grace Proudfoot

At this time of year it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing a poster for Pantomimes or in this case Dickens’ Classic Scrooge (A Christmas Carol). Where Pantomimes are out to bring laughter and humour to Christmas, Scrooge brings its own story and morals to the stage.

Bill Kenwright The Liverpool born musical producer has bought 73 year old Tommy Steele in to play the cantankerous miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in this touring production. It's a wonderful story, with a bit of everything. There's beauty, wonder, belief, magic and hope – what actor wouldn't want to work with something that had all those? And to do it as a musical is even better.

The production opens in the dusty offices of Scrooge and Marley – a Victorian moneylenders – where Scrooge pecks through the coins and harasses his meek employee, Bob Cratchit(Geoffery Abbot). It’s Christmas Eve and Bob Cratchit is working, while all the time wanting to get home to his wife and family, but Scrooge as other ideas, all he cares about is money and profit margins, he keeps his workers poor while he lives a lonely life of luxury. It is after the day’s work when he has retired to his bed that this story comes alive. Scrooge is visited by 4 ghosts each one with a different message for the tight-fisted old miser, and each one must get their message through before the dawning of Christmas day.

Containing a total of 14 songs, done brilliantly, in the old cockney style, the musical also features illusions from Paul Kieve – the man behind the "magic" of the Harry Potter films. Within the towering stage-set, by Paul Farnsworth showing the rotting tenements of Victorian London, Kieve creates a series of clever visual tricks – not least the appearance of Marley's face within Scrooges' door knocker, a magical moment that left us gasping with disbelief.

The 4 Ghosts the first being Jacob Marley played by Barry Howard was loud and totally made his presence felt on the stage. The ghost of Christmas Past and Christmas Present Played by Claire Marlow and James Head respectively gave a very convincing performance but it was David Lindon’s Ghost of The future that really bought the illusions and magic out in force.

Tommy Steele used a lot of humour in his role and sang and danced around the stage incredibly well, almost like a man half his age.I cannot finish this review without mentioning The performance of the boy who played Tiny Tim (no name in the programme) he was fantastic and really put his heart and soul into his role, He had me in tears more than once, and certainly deserves to be named in the cast list.

A magical and enchanting production that has real heart and soul, proving that the magic of Christmas isn't all about 'he's behind you's' and 'oh no it isn'ts'

runs until Sat 28th Nov

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