x The first show of Academy Players' 56th season is "A Christmas Carol, The Musical" adapted by Stephen DeCesare from Dickens novel. Stephen wrote the music, lyrics and libretto for this version. His original music is the heart and soul of this show. He writes an array of different musical numbers which sound like songs from "Evita", "Les Miserables", "Jekyll & Hyde" and "Oliver" as well as beautiful ballads and upbeat numbers including a calypso style one. Stephen musically directed this show with remarkable results. Director Richard Bento creates a lovely holiday show with 30 cast members with choreographer Tricia Whalen creating some inventive dance numbers. The multitude of gorgeous costumes are by Dawn Bruno. This cast sings Stephen's score beautifully, creating a new musical version of this classic tale that people can enjoy at this festive time of the year.
Stephen also plays the keyboards for the show with Dylan Sevey on drums. The role of Scrooge is played by Richard whose powerful baritone voice fills the theater on his three solo numbers called "Am I My Brother's Keeper" where he throws the two solicitors out of his office, "Scrooge's Final Plea" where he tells the graveyard specters to be saved from his cruel fate and "It's Starting to Feel Like Christmas" reprise where he has reformed his ways to celebrate Christmas from now on, learning from the spirits as he witnesses the past,present and future. The first frightening ghost is Scott Morency as Jacob Marley. He does a terrific job on "Eternity in Chains" which sounds like an old vaudeville number. He does a topnotch job as do his dancing chorus of ghouls who swirl about. Vanessa Medeiros plays the Ghost of the Past. She leads Scrooge on his journey to his past and she handles her enormous amount of dialogue with ease. John Faiola plays Christmas Present. His fabulous voice is heard in an upbeat number called "It's Christmas Once Again". I did "Fiddler on the Roof" with John back in 1978 when he was 14 years old. Brooke Friday plays the final ghost of the show while he shows Scrooge how his death will cause happiness for others because they dislike his greedy nature. One of the best numbers occurs during this segment in the gravediggers scene with Scott as Old Joe singing "Dancing on Your Grave" which sounds like "Reviewing the Situation'' from "Oliver". There are eight dancers doing a fantastic dance with shovels during it. Laura Leach is a hoot as the Charwoman in this sequence with Michael Dubac and Vanessa Medeiros. Brooke also plays Belle and shows off her lovely soprano voice in "Til The End of Time" which she sings to Young Scrooge after he proposes to her. Her other number is "We Must Say Goodbye" where she breaks up with him when she realizes he loves money more than her. It sounds like "On My Own" from "Les Miserables". G.J. Dowding plays Young Scrooge. He makes the transition from attentive young suitor to greedy businessman in this scene. Boy Scrooge is excellently played by Peter Thomas II who gets to show off his strong voice in his solo "Robinson Crusoe" and his duet called "Christmas Is" with Dominque Desimone who plays his sister, Fan when she comes to bring him home for the holiday. It is a very touching moment in the show.
Two of the funniest characters in this show are as Mr and Mrs Fezziwig played by Adam Morgan and Katie Porter. The Fezziwigs usually just appear for the dance segment and leave but they have a funny ballad called "Remember When?" about how things went wrong while they were courting as well as in the early years of their marriage. Adam also brings a lot of humor to the role of Fred, Scrooge's nephew in the opening scene as well as in the party scene. One of the guests at the party is G.J. as Topper who gets to show off his topnotch voice in "Who Can She Be", a new upbeat song Stephen wrote for this show just last week. Katie brings tears to the audience's eyes in her solo "In the Lonely Midnight" which is sung in counterpoint with the children's chorus singing "Silent Night". Bob Cratchitt is well played by Tim Heaney who sings "All Through the Night" with Mrs. Cratchitt at Tiny Tim's grave which is one of the poignant moments in the show. He also sings a calypso style song called "It's Starting to Feel Like Christmas" in the first Act. Cute blond haired James Truslow who is 8 years old plays Tiny Tim and tugs at your heartstrings in his song called "Holy Child" about the birth of Jesus. He also leads the Cratchitt family in their song "God Bless Us Everyone". The family members handle the comic and dramatic moments very well with lovely blonde, Shannon O'Brien doing a Cockney accent as Mrs. Cratchitt. Another outstanding chorus number is the "Scrooge" number where everyone says how rotten Ebenezer is to everyone he meets. It is lead by Laura Leach and Jo-Ann Maccarone and sounds like "Murder, Murder" from "Jekyll and Hyde". Kudos to the rest of the cast for doing a beautiful job on this musical version of this well known tale.