Theatre Mirror Reviews -"A Christmas Carol The Musical ACADEMY PLAYERSroadway Christmas"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"A Christmas Carol" The Musical

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of Academy Players 57th season is "A Christmas Carol, the Musical" adapted by Stephen DeCesare from the Dickens novel. Stephen wrote the music, lyrics and libretto for this version. His original music is the heart and soul of this production. He writes a variety of different musical numbers which sound like songs from "Evita", "Le Miserables", "Jekyll And Hyde", "Oliver" as well as beautiful ballads and upbeat numbers including a calypso style one. Scott Morency directs the show while Stephen plays lead keyboards and musically directed it with choreography by Melissa Costa. The 28 member cast sing Stephen's score beautifully, creating a terrific musical version of the classic tale.

Scott not only directed the show but plays two roles in it, too. Steve plays lead keyboards and conducts Ron Procopio on the second keyboard and Buddy Procopio on drums. Melissa's dances are inventive and fun filled especially the Fezziwig dance, the shovel dance and the spirit dance. The set, props and the costumes are by Rita Maron. The hardworking stage manager, Rachel Nadeau keeps the show, moving along splendidly. She and Sean Fisher designed the lights for the show. Zach Searles plays the role of Scrooge. His marvelous baritone voice fills the theater on his three solo numbers called "Am I My Brother's Keeper?" where he throws two solicitors out of his office, "Scrooge's Final Plea" where he tells the graveyard specters to be saved from his own fate and "It's Starting to Feel Like Christmas" reprise where he has reformed his ways to celebrate Christmas from now on. Zach also sings an emotional verse of "In The Lonely Midnight".The audience witnesses his transformation from scene to scene in the past, present and future which he learned from the spirits. He makes the transition from curmudgeon to joyous man with ease.Bravo!

The first scary spirit is Scott Morency as Jacob Marley. He does a marvelous job on "Eternity in Chains" which sounds like an old vaudeville number. He does a terrific job as the ghostly spirits dance around him. This song stops the show. Felicia Baker plays the Ghost of the Past. She shows Scrooge his past with Fan, the Fezziwigs and Belle. Felicia handles her dialogue with ease and shows off her lovely voice in "The Meaning of Christmas".Adam Pedro as Boy Scrooge shows off his strong voice in the duet with Grace Truslow as Fan called "Christmas Is" when she arrives to bring him home for Christmas, making it a very touching moment. Frankie Galluci is phenomenal as Belle and gets to show off her magnificent soprano voice in "Til the End of Time" which she sings to Young Scrooge when he proposes to her. Her other number is "We Must Say Goodbye" when Belle breaks up with him when she realizes he loves money in place of her. This lovely ballad sounds like "On My Own" from "Les Miz". Frankie's break-up dialogue is terrific and well done. Michael Carnevale plays Young Scrooge wonderfully. He makes the transition from attentive young suitor to greedy businessman in this scene. He sings part of the duet "Til the End of Time", showing off his strong singing voice in it. Doug Hummel-Price plays Christmas Present. His fantastic baritone voice is heard in "It's Christmas Once Again" which is an upbeat number. plays the Ghost of the Future where he shows Scrooge how his death will bring people happiness because they dislike his greedy nature. One of the best numbers in the show takes place in this part, where the gravediggers dance on Scrooge's grave with their shovels in "Dancing On Your Grave" with Scott playing Old Joe. It is reminiscent of "Reviewing the Situation" from "Oliver". Eight excellent dancers execute the shovel dance. Chelsea Cook as the Charwoman is hilarious as is Melissa Thomas and John Sheppard in this segment.

Two funny characters in this show are Doug Hummel-Price and Stephanie Morgan as Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig. The Fezziwigs usually appear for the dance segment and leave but in this version they have a comic ballad called "Remember When?" about how things went wrong while they were courting as well as in the early years of their marriage. This song is reminiscent of "I Remember It Well" from "Gigi". Kevin Flynn plays Fred in the opening segment and in the party scene. He brings the needed energy and happiness to this part. Kevin also shows off his topnotch voice in "Where Can She Be?", an upbeat song. In the future segment, Frankie's soaring soprano voice brings tears to your eyes as she sings "In the Lonely Midnight" done in counterpoint to "Silent Night" by the chorus with an added version of the song by Zach as Scrooge. Allen Yannone plays Bob Cratchit excellently. He shows off his strong singing voice in "All Through the Night" after Tiny Tim's death which is a poignant moment in the show. Allen also sings a calypso style song called "It's Starting to Feel Like Christmas" in Act 1. Cratchit jumps rope and hop-scotchs during it. Cute blond haired James Truslow who is 11 years old plays Tiny Tim leads the Cratchit family in their song "God Bless Us Everyone". The family members handle the comic and dramatic moments wonderfully. Another outstanding chorus number is the opening "Scrooge" where everyone tells how rotten Scrooge is to everyone he meets. It sounds like "Murder, Murder" from "Jekyl and Hyde". Kudos to the whole cast for doing a fabulous job on this musical version of the classic family tale. Be sure to catch this show before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

"A Christmas Carol" The Musical (9 - 17 December)
@ Rego Auditorium, 160 Orchard Street, EAST PROVIDENCE RI

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