The Mansfield Music and Arts Society's current show is an adaptation of the Dickens holiday classic "A Christmas Carol" called "Scrooge, the Musical". This show is based on the 1970 movie version which starred Albert Finney in the title role. From the opening strains of "Sing a Christmas Carol" to the closing "Thank You Very Much", director Kevin Mishley leads his talented cast in this outstanding musical production which captures the right amount of humor and pathos throughout to bring the audience into this joyous holiday season. The gorgeous set pieces by Ken Butler, Glenn Fournier and Gary Poholek and even more gorgeous costumes by Jennifer Mischley and Daniel Kozar, combined with topnotch musical direction by Tony Torelli and wonderful choreography by Judee and Courtney Bottomley make this the must see Christmas show of this season. Bravo.
Kevin casts each and every role perfectly while Tony makes everyone sound wonderful with the harmonic balance and brilliance with a cast that can really sing. Tony's excellent orchestra soars while playing this lovely score especially Larry Shapiro on lead trumpet and assistant music director Mel Springer on the lead keyboards. The vocals shine in the choral numbers especially the opening song, "I Like Life", "Happiness", "You, You You", "May All Your Wishes Come True" and "Thank You Very Much". Judee and Courtney's choreography is excellent especially in the Fezziwig dance and in "Thank You Very Much" where the cast dances all around the stage and on Scrooge's coffin.
Heading this huge cast as Scrooge is Ken Butler who is only in his thirties but plays this 60 year old miser with the vocal delivery of an older man both in his dialogue and his many songs including "No Better Life" which is hateful in the first act and meaningful in the second, "I Hate People" which is hilarious as he rants and raves about hating everyone in sight, "Happiness" which is a quartet about his true love Isabel, "You, You, You" which is a touching duet with Kevin Mischley as young Scrooge where they realize the error they made in losing their true love, Isabel, "I Like Life" another duet where Scrooge learns to enjoy himself prodded on by Christmas Present and "I'll Begin Again", his final transition into a better person. Ken's voice soars off the charts in these numbers and his acting is fabulous, too. His final appearance as Father Christmas giving out gifts to everyone is the perfect finishing touch with his joyous and giving heart, showing Scrooge learned the true meaning of the day from the visiting spirits. Ken's powerful performance as well as the whole cast's talent is rewarded with a well deserved standing ovation.
The three ghosts in this show are played by Fred Armstrong (Jacob Marley), Linda Bono(Christmas Past) and Chris DiOrio (Christmas Present). Fred frightens Scrooge into reforming his ways in his song "Make the Most of this World" and appears in the second act when Scrooge ends up in Hell and is condemned to spend eternity in his counting house freezing, being in the coldest spot in Hell. Linda brings an ethereal quality to her ghost as she shows Scrooge his past and confesses she was his sister, Jenny. Chris as Present captures the hearts of the audience as this jolly ghost with his wonderful laugh, his topnotch acting ability and his fantastic tenor voice which soars in "I Like Life" duet and chorus number closing Act 1. He also has some hilarious one liners where he puts Scrooge in his place as a miserable skinflint. Another scene stealing performance is by Jeff Mahoney as Tom Jenkins who owes money to the miser. He is astounding with his singing as he leads the dynamite show stopping "Thank You Very Much" and the "Father Christmas" number with the urchins while Scrooge sings "I Hate People" in counterpoint.
Kevin Mischley does triple duty in this show as the director, Young Scrooge and Harry, Scrooge's nephew. His singing voice is fabulous as is Rachel Fisher-Parkman's in their duet, "Happiness" and they lead the chorus in a nonsense song called "The Minister's Cat" in the second act. Rachel's soprano voice soars in these numbers and her acting is splendid, too. The breakup scene is handled very well in Act 1 as is the hilarity of the party scene in the second. Patrick Murphy is fantastic as Bob Cratchit. He sings "Christmas Children" beautifully and brings the audience to tears at Tiny Tim's graveside. Lauren Melton is only a fourth grader but she is very strong as Tiny Tim with her gorgeous rendition of "Beautiful Day" as well as her acting ability as the crippled child who longs to run and play with the other children. Lauren and Katie Armstrong as Kathy Cratchit join Patrick in "Christmas Children". Playing Mrs. Cratchit is Kevin's real life wife, Jennifer who carries their 15 month old son, Warren in arms as he plays Baby Cratchit. (Acting runs in their family at an early age.) Kudos to everyone who make this a show to be very proud of. So for a splendid rendition of this classic tale, be sure to catch "Scrooge" before time runs out.