When I first saw the Scrooge the Musical was coming to York, through Pick Me Up Theatre, my first thought was, it’s about time! For years, this Christmas tale has been one of the lesser told theatre stories and finally Robert Readman (Director) has managed to bring it to life.
Based on Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas Carol, Scrooge tells the tale of old miser Ebeneezer on the night he’s visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. The story, adapted by Leslie Bricusses was first used for the 1970 film musical Scrooge! starring Albert Finney. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the score and the song Thank You Very Much.
Almost 50 years later and it’s Mark Hird (Ebeneezer Scrooge) that is the standout in the Pick Me Up Theatre version of this classic. A legend of Pick Me Up’s productions down the years, Hird is outstanding. From the start, his character is full of humour and charm (not typical of Scrooge) but through his acting, you find yourself liking his character as he interacts with the four ghosts he meets on that night we all know so well.
The moments of Scrooge that stood out were the scenes where Hird is central but interacting with the classic A Christmas Carol dialogue. In fact, I found myself watching the show, wishing it wasn’t a musical at times, such was the quality in the spoken interactions between Scrooge, Bob Cratchit (Alan Park), Young Ebeneezer (Frankie Bounds) and Harry (James Potter). Whilst some of the songs were pertinent and relevant to the narrative, in the most part those with the ghosts, it did feel at times a little diluted and almost too many songs, especially in Act One.
The cast for the production also felt a little overkill at times. Too many people on stage in the street scenes was distracting and often took attention away from the key elements. That said I commend the staging, lighting and overarching production quality that was evident throughout. Transitioning with loud sound effects and drastic set changes made for entertaining viewing.
Overall, enjoyable, it got me in the Christmas spirit, but just missed the mark for me!