Wednesday, 12 December 2018

A Christmas Carol : The Musical In Concert - Review

Lyceum Theatre, London


****


Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens
Based on the story by Charles Dickens


Griff Rhys Jones

It’s that time of year where once again Freddie Tapner gleefully conducts A Christmas Carol: The Musical in Concert at the West End's Lyceum Theatre for two nights (and a matinee) only. The classic tale is told with the help of a gorgeous cast including Welsh treasures Griff Rhys Jones, X-Factor finalist Lucie Jones together with the fabulous Cedric Neal who, along with an excellent company, bring Alan Menken’s score to life with plenty of Christmas cheer.

Charles Dickens’ story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his moral comeuppance from three ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future is a much beloved yarn. Here it is Rhys Jones who bah-humbugs his way through life much to the disappointment of his orphan nephew whose yearly invite to Christmas Dinner is met with gruff Griff’s lust for solitude (“Nothing to do with me!”). David Hunter is Bob Cratchit, his ever-suffering and ever-faithful employee whose son, Tiny Tim is on his last legs (sorry) not that Scrooge seems to mind nor notice. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge’s old partner Jacob Marley (a menacing performance by Jeremy Secomb) arrives with a spooky warning (“Link by link”) that Scrooge may be working his way toward an eternity of torment if he doesn’t give up his self-serving ways. Soon after, the three spirits show up to further open his curmudgeonly eyes to the error of his ways.

The score is full of old-school sentiment, arguably perfect for the time of year, though Cratchit’s sickly sweet exchanges with his son (the adorable Tobias Ungleson) are perhaps a little over sweet and hard to swallow. A few dance-along tunes help bring the festive spirit with Abundance and Charity, a company number led by the delightful Neal, a particular joy.

A few technical issues and lines lost in the London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s melody get in the way of a perfect evening but there is something to be said for gloriously unashamed Christmas celebration in this continuously turbulent time. Get a ticket and settle in for a fun night of relentless festive frolics, indulging yourself in the sheer escapism that comes with the season.


Performances on Monday 17th December at 4pm and 7.30pm
Reviewed by Heather Deacon
Photo credit: Nick Rutter

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