Theatre Mirror Reviews -"A Christmas Carol --- TheMusical"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"A Christmas Carol --- The Musical"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The holiday show for Bay Colony Productions and UnCommon Theatre is "A Christmas Carol, The Musical".On Christmas Eve, three spirits arrive to take Scrooge on an unforgettable journey that he will never forget. Charles Dickens' classic gets the full Broadway treatment by the talented team of Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens and Mike Ockrent. A story we all know and love has been set to music overflowing with holiday feeling to carry in our hearts all year long. Their combination of hard work creates a fabulous retelling of this familiar tale. This musical extravaganza is filled with the magic of the holiday season, exuberant dances, ghosts and the sights and sounds of Dickens like London. The show retains its emotional power and pure joy with both the story and a score filled with beautiful melodies and emotional lyrics. Director/choreographer Michael Hammond uses a cast of 50 to tell the well known tale while Paula Bishop taught the remarkable and beautiful score to them. Their hard work pays off with a standing ovation at the close of the show.

Michael blocks this huge cast wonderfully. He also comes up with clever dances including a minuet, waltz, polka, soft shoe, charleston and march to name a few. Paula obtains marvelous vocals from her cast. The group numbers "Jolly Good Time" which sounds like Deck the Halls and "Dancing on Your Grave" with a shovel dance, to name a couple of them and Paula conducts a seventeen piece orchestra. Some of the score is reminiscent of "Beauty and the Beast". Fred Armstrong commands the stage as Scrooge. He stars as this miser who has his heart of stone turned into a heart of gold. Fred shows off his strong singing voice in "Nothing to Do with Me", "Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today" and "What a Day What A Sky" when he finally realizes what Christmas is all about. Fred delivers the comic moments when he yells at the boy caroler and people on the street but he really shines in the poignant moments, the arrest of his father, the break up with Emily, the death of Tiny Tim and especially the transformation scene. These scenes elicit tears from the crowd, tugging at their heartstrings at the pathos from them. He displays how Scrooge learns to be a better man by Christmas Day. Snow falls onstage after Scrooge's transformation on Christmas Day.

Mark Chabot is hilarious as Jacob Marley. He is impressive with a vaudeville type song and dance with his ghostly specters to warn Scrooge to change his ways in his song. Mark shows off his topnotch baritone voice during "Link by Link". The three ghosts also excel in their roles. The Ghost of Christmas Past played by lovely 7th grader Cara DiPietro is fantastic and shows off her beautiful soprano voice in "Lights of Long Ago" She shows Scrooge the error of his ways with a topnotch British accent and strong delivery of her lines.Sean Leehan is marvelous as Ghost of Christmas Present who laughs and chides Scrooge as he shows him the plight of the Cratchit family and cajoles him as he shows him how his nephew Fred is spending Christmas. He leads the chorus girls in a rousing Charleston and kick line during his vaudeville style song "Abundance and Charity". Sean steals many a scene with this role. Ryan McFarland plays the jolly nephew Fred and his beautiful bride, Sally is played by Abigail Sitte. Fred Armstrong's daughter, Katie plays Christmas Yet to Come. Will Hartwell and Mary Arruda play Mr and Mrs. Fezziwig. The both of them capture the spirit of the Fezziwig's with their upbeat portrayals. They have a big song and dance number called "Mister Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball" which stops the show. It is reminiscent of "Master of the House" from "Les Miserables".

In the past segment young Scrooge played by Ben Reingold sings "A Place Called Home" which is a gorgeous ballad where he writes to his sister Fan played by Maggie Pickard who joins him in this tear jerking duet. Sean Neary plays Ebenezer at 18(I last reviewed him at in "Spring Awakening".) He and Heidi Gleichauf as Emily also sing the touching duet "A Place Called Home" reprise where he proposes to her. The Cratchit family supplies the pathos for the show. Lou DiPietro has a strong baritone voice and trembles and quakes at Scrooge's tirades. He and Matthew Neary as Tiny Tim sing "You Mean More to Me" which is a display of their close relationship. Matthew does a terrific job making you believe in goodness especially when he exclaims "God bless us everyone'' and shows off his boy soprano voice in "Christmas Together". Lou and Kellie Jo McCann as Mrs. Crachitt sing "Christmas Together". The family shows the warmth needed to help convert not only Scrooge but all the people who forget what this season is really all about. Kudos to the enormous cast for all their hard work on this show. The closing song sums everything up beautifully, "God Bless Us Everyone".

A word of praise to Michael Duarte and Sandra Myatt for all the sets while Nancy DiPietro, Nancy Pickard and Matt Reingold supply the gorgeous costumes. His hard working stage manager Michael Texieira who keeps things running smoothly all night, designed the lights and is technical director with props handled by Gail Gilman and sound by Ed DiMarzio. So for a thoroughly enjoyable rendition of this old tale be sure to catch "A Christmas Carol, The Musical" at the Orpheum in Foxboro.

"A Christmas Carol --- The Musical" (2 - 11 December)
@ 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide