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Scrooge The Musical review from 1996

Tuesday, 03 December, 1996
Review by: 
Darren Dalglish

A classic story by Charles Dickens of a nasty mean man who hates Christmas and most other things in life and is shown the error of his ways when he is visited by the ghost of Christmas past, present and future. This version by Leslie Bricusse who is the composer, lyricist and Librettist is very average in deed. The music can only be described as 'boring'. There are no really good tunes you could hum when leaving the theatre, but for the one exception " Thank You Very Much", which is the only decent song in the show.

The performance of the company leaves a lot to be desired. I don't think the producers chose anyone who could sing. I have never heard so much bad singing in one show before. Anthony Newley could not sing to save his life, his voice is simply awful! However he did play the part of Scrooge quite well.

The whole production looked amateurish with the choreography dull, with no attempt of doing anything different or unusual. I will admit to enjoying the last twenty minutes of the show. This is mainly because of the strength of Dickens story and the singing of the one good song in this musical .

At the end I was again by myself in thinking what a disappointing show I've just seen. A lot of the packed audience gave a standing ovation and seemed to have loved it. This is probably great fun for the family, who I'm sure it is aimed at. But normal theatregoers had better avoid this musical if they are looking for some quality.

(Darren Dalglish)

After touring for about three years, Leslie Bricusse's musical adaptation of Dicken's classic "A Christmas Carol" has finally made it to the West End, and looks like it is going to be a roaring success. Anthony Newley stars in the title role, and does a fine job. His singing is a little off at times, and his acting is never subtle, but he is a personality, and knows how to work an audience, and he certainly knows how to entertain.

This is a knees-up musical, which is fun, although if you are looking for the kind of depth provided by Dickens, you have come to the wrong place. Some very catchy tunes (such as "Thank You Very Much) keep the audience in high spirits Sean Kingsley as Tom Jenkin's excels in this number), however there are a few dud song, such as "I Hate People (I Hate Christmas)" which Newley spits out in between saying Bah Humbug what seems like a million times, and stealing pennies from the poor and the homeless. Tudor Davies' choreography is fairly predictable, but does the job.

Much of the credit must go to Paul Kieve, for his illusions, that give the production that extra magic. Children all around shrieked with delight as Ghosts flew around the stage, appeared in chairs, and disappeared through mirrors.

Tom Watt (Lofty from Eastenders) was pleasing as Bob Cratchitt, and Dudley Owen and Susannah Bray give proceedings a lift as the fun loving Mr & Mrs Fezziwig. A special mention has to go to John Faal, as the lovable Tiny Tim, call me an old softy, but as far as I am concerned, here was the star of the show, he will go a long way!

In the absence of a pantomime in the West End, this is the next best thing. If you have children, I guarantee they will have a wonderful time. This is a delightful production, with all the necessary Christmas magic. production .

(Jason L Belne)

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