A Christmas Carol (musical)

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A Christmas Carol
Music Alan Menken
Lyrics Lynn Ahrens
Book Mike Ockrent
Lynn Ahrens
Basis Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol
Productions 1994 Madison Square Garden
2004 Film

A Christmas Carol is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens. The musical is based on Charles Dickens' 1843 novella of the same name. The show was presented annually at New York City's Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden from 1 December 1994 to 27 December 2003.[1][2]

Productions[edit]

A Christmas Carol premiered on 1 December 1994. It was performed annually in December at the Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden from December 1994 until December 2003.[1][2]

The original 1994 production was directed by Mike Ockrent with choreography by Susan Stroman, sets by Tony Walton, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, sound by Tony Meoloa, Projections by Wendall K. Harrington, and musical direction by Paul Gemignani. Walter Charles played Ebenezer Scrooge.[2]

Terrence Mann, Tony Randall, Hal Linden, Roddy McDowall (in his final role), F. Murray Abraham,[3] Frank Langella, Tim Curry, Tony Roberts, Roger Daltrey and Jim Dale have all played the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge in subsequent productions of A Christmas Carol.[4]

In 2004, the production was adapted for television and produced by Hallmark Entertainment for NBC. It was directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman and features Kelsey Grammer as Ebenezer Scrooge, Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley, Jesse L. Martin as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Jennifer Love Hewitt as Scrooge's former fiancée.

The musical made its London premiere on Monday 19 December 2016 at the Lyceum Theatre as a concert production played by London Musical Theatre Orchestra and produced by James Yeoburn and Stuart Matthew Price for United Theatrical. It starred Robert Lindsay as Ebeneezer Scrooge, Alex Gaumond as Bob Cratichit, Carrie Hope Fletcher and her sister-in-law Giovanna Fletcher as Emily and Mrs Cratchit, Madalena Alberto as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Hugh Maynard as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Norman Bowman as Jacob Marley, Peter Polycarpou as Mr Fezziwig, and John Addison as Fred Anderson.

Synopsis[edit]

The opening numbers are "The Years Are Passing By" and "Jolly, Rich, and Fat". In later productions the two numbers are combined as "Jolly Good Time." Scrooge first encounters the three ghosts of Christmas in their real-world guises as a lamplighter (Past), a charity show barker (Present), and a blind beggar woman (Future) ("Nothing to Do With Me"). Scrooge's long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit, and Bob's son Tiny Tim, purchase a Christmas chicken ("You Mean More to Me").

The visit of the ghost of Jacob Marley ("Link By Link"), features a half-dozen singing, dancing spirits presented with various levels of makeup and special effects. One of these ghosts in this version is known to be an old colleague of Scrooge and Marley's, Mr. Haynes, who was said to be "mean to the bone", resulting in his charred skeleton. Other puns include a spirit with a safe embedded in his chest, who "never had a heart".

The Ghost of Christmas Past reinforces the character's signature theme of illuminating Scrooge's worldview ("The Lights of Long Ago"). One notable departure from Dickens' novella in this portion of the film is its depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge's father, identified as John William Scrooge, being sentenced to debtors' prison while his horrified family looks on; this scene was inspired by an actual occurrence from Dickens' own childhood.

The Ghost of Christmas Present ("Abundance and Charity" and "Christmas Together"), makes his point that Christmas is a time for celebration, generosity, and fellowship. The former takes place at a fantastical version of the charity show he was seen promoting on Christmas Eve, and the latter whisks Scrooge on a tour of London that includes the homes of his nephew Fred, his clerk Bob Cratchit, and Mr. Smythe, a recently widowed client of Scrooge's lending house.

The entire Christmas Future ("Dancing On Your Grave", "You Mean More to Me (Reprise)", and "Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today"), culminates in Scrooge's awakening in his bedroom on Christmas morning.

"What a Day, What a Sky" bookends "Nothing to Do With Me", dramatizing Scrooge's new outlook as he races through the streets of London making amends. The film concludes with a reprise of "Christmas Together" featuring the entire cast.

Musical numbers[edit]

  • "The Years Are Passing By" – Gravedigger
  • "Jolly, Rich and Fat (A Jolly Good Time)" – Ensemble
  • "Nothing to Do With Me" – Scrooge, Cratchit
  • "Street Song"("Nothing To Do With Me") – Scrooge, Cratchit, Fred, Jonathan, Sandwich Board Man, Lamplighter, Blind Old Hag, Ensemble
  • "You Mean More To Me" - Cratchit, Tiny Tim
  • "Link By Link" – Ghost of Jacob Marley, Ensemble
  • "The Lights of Long Ago" (Part 1) – Ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge Family
  • "God Bless Us, Everyone" – Scrooge's Mother, Fan (aged 6), Scrooge (aged 8)
  • "A Place Called Home" – Scrooge at 18, Emily, Scrooge
  • "Mr. Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball" – Fezziwig, Mrs. Fezziwig, Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Past, Ensemble
  • "The Lights of Long Ago" (Part 2) – Scrooge (aged 18), Marley as a Young Man, Emily, People from Scrooge's Past
  • "Abundance And Charity" – Ghost of Christmas Present, Ensemble
  • "Christmas Together" – Tiny Tim, Ghost of Christmas Present, Cratchit Family, Fred, Ensemble
  • "Dancing On Your Grave" – Scrooge, Mrs. Mops, Ensemble
  • "Yesterday, Tomorrow And Today" – Scrooge
  • "The Years Are Passing By" (reprise) - Jonathan
  • "Nothing to Do With Me" (reprise) - Scrooge
  • "Christmas Together" (reprise) – Company
  • "God Bless Us Everyone" – Company

1995 Recording cast[edit]

  • Punch and Judy Man/Marley as a young man/Undertaker - Christopher Sieber
  • Punch and Judy Woman - Donna Lee Marshall
  • Organ Grinder - Robert Ousley
  • Grave Digger - Bill Nolte
  • Mr. Smythe - Joseph Kolinski
  • Jack Smythe - Andy Jobe
  • Grace Smythe - Lindsay Jobe
  • Ebenezer Scrooge - Walter Charles
  • Bob Cratchit - Nick Corley
  • Charity Men - Robert Ousley, Martin Van Treuren, Walter Willison
  • Old Joe/Mr. Hawkins - Ken McMullen
  • Match Girl - Arlene Pierret
  • Street Urchins and Children - Matthew F. Byrne, Jacy De Filippo, Justin Bartholemew Kamen, Olivia Oguma, Christopher Mark Petrizzo, P.J. Smith
  • Sandwich Board Man/Ghost of Christmas Present - Michael Mandell
  • Fred - Robert Westenberg
  • Jonathan - Jason Fuchs
  • Lamplighter/Ghost of Christmas Past - Ken Jennings
  • Blind Hag/Scrooge's Mother - Andrea Frierson Toney
  • Mrs. Mops - Darcy Pulliam
  • Ghost of Jacob Marley - Jeff Keller
  • Judge - Michael H. Ingram
  • Scrooge at 8 - David Gallagher
  • Fan at 6 - Mary Elizabeth Albano
  • Scrooge's Father/Undertaker - Michael X. Martin
  • Scrooge at 12 - Ramzi Khalaf
  • Fan at 10 - Jacy De Filippo or Olivia Oguma
  • Fezziwig - Gerry Vichi
  • Scrooge at 18 - Michael Christopher Moore
  • Mrs. Fezziwig - Mary Stout
  • Emily - Emily Skinner
  • Tiny Tim - Matthew Mezzacappa
  • Mrs. Cratchit - Joy Hermalyn
  • The Cratchit Children - Mary Elizabeth Albano, Betsy Chang, David Gallagher, Sean Thomas Morrissey
  • Sally, Fred's Wife - Natalie Toro
  • Ensemble - Joan Barber, Leslie Ball, Renee Bergeron, Christophe Caballero, Candy Cook, Madeleine Doherty, Mark Dovey, Donna Dunmire, Melissa Haizlip, Michael Howard-Jones, Mark S. Hoebee, Don Johanson, Eric H. Kaufman, John-Charles, Kelly, David Lowenstein, Seth Malkin, Carol Lee Meadows, Karen Murphy, Tom Pardoe, Gail Pennington, Angela Piccinni, Josef Reiter, Pamela Remler, Sam Reni, Eric Riley, Rommy SandhuErin Stoddard Tracy Terstriep, Cynthia Thole, Matthew J. Vargo, Billy Vitelli, Theara J. Ward, Whitney Webster
  • Angels - Blessed Sacrament Chorus of Staten Island, PS 26 Chorus, Righteousness Unlimted, William F. Halloran Vocal Ensemble-School 22

Reception[edit]

David Richards reviewed the 1994 production for The New York Times writing," "Christmas Together," the joyful production number that comes two thirds of the way through, offers nothing less than a panoramic view of the city in full celebration. Stage left, you have Tiny Tim and the Cratchits; stage right, Scrooge's nephew Fred and his family. Meanwhile, the sorts of windows you find in Advent calendars are being thrown open everywhere. Behind some, actors are singing; behind others, cardboard cutouts are dancing. At "The Phantom of the Opera" or "Miss Saigon," you tend to look up a lot. At "A Christmas Carol," you look around." Of the score, Richards wrote: "After the spectacle, the score by Mr. Menken (with lyrics by Ms. Ahrens) is the production's major drawing card." Richards continued, "The eye is courted at every turn, the special effects come on a regular basis and the street scenes don't lack for warmly dressed bodies and the odd beggar. At the end, snow falls in the hall as well as onstage, which so thrilled an incredulous 8-year-old boy seated near me that he got up and danced in the aisle."[2]

Lawrence Van Gelder reviewed the 2002 production for The New York Times writing, "Music, dance, colorful costumes and atmospheric scenery -- all intended to make holiday theatergoing a pleasant family experience -- are marshaled here to satisfying effect." Of F. Murray Abraham's performance, Gelder wrote: "Far from the terrifying figure who made blind men's dogs tug their owners into doorways and up courts, Mr. Abraham can scarcely contain the good cheer waiting to burst out in little bits of business before his ghostly encounters."[3]

Jeremy Gerard reviewed the 1994 production for "Variety" writing, "The show begins with a thunderous percussive explosion — rumbling organ, crashing cymbals, blaring brass — on Tony Walton’s wraparound London cityscape set that’s so big you could park Norma Desmond’s mansion in there and never notice it." Gerard continues, "Spectacle is the operative word here. It is done fluidly and — an Ockrent/Stroman trademark — with considerable humor, especially in the first big dance number, “Link by Link,” in which a very animated Ghost of Jacob Marley (Jeff Keller) and a platoon of ectoplasmic accomplices outline for Scrooge (Walter Charles) the many ways in which his life has gone wrong. With all its clanging clamor, the scene giddily recalls darker moments from both “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Grand Hotel.” Noting the costume design, Gerard said: "For a later dance number, a Christmas ball stunningly set in Fezziwig’s Banking House, costume designer William Ivey Long (another “Crazy” alum) has outdone himself, which is saying something, as gown after wildly colorful gown makes its entrance and has its spin.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "A Christmas Carol Additional Facts". A Christmas Carol (Broadway)at Music Theatre International (MTI). Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Richards, David (2 December 1994). "A Famous Miser, Tiny Tim And a Tap-Dancing Chorus". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Van Gelder, Lawrence (11 December 2002). "Scrooge's Benign Tendencies Slip Out". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "A Christmas Carol Synopsis and Production". A Christmas Carol (Broadway)at Music Theatre International (MTI). Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  5. ^ Gerard, Jeremy (1 December 1994). "Review: 'A Christmas Carol'". variety.com. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 

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