Christmas Carol – The Musical review at Lost Theatre, London – ‘a rich, romantic score’
Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens’ take on A Christmas Carol is a curious blend of Broadway and Dickens. The familiar story has been adapted many times through the years but book writer Mike Ockrent truncates the story even further, while maintaining the general moral thread of the original. The US premiere spawned a Hallmark movie starring Kelsey Grammer but this production at the Lost marks the show’s British premiere.
It’s an ambitious piece with a rich, romantic score from Menken recreated by musical director Randy Smartnick as a digital recording. This proves a double-edged sword, providing a full orchestration but occasionally drowning out the spoken dialogue. Certainly the ensemble harmonies from the 25-strong cast are quite beautiful and the lively scene at Fezziwig’s Christmas Ball, with choreography from James Thacker, capture the spirit of Scrooge at his most jovial.
Piers Garnham manages Scrooge’s grumpiness with sufficient tenacity but physically, it’s not a dynamic performance, which would help greatly with the conversion from miser to merrymaker. As ever the best fun is to be had with the ghosts and particularly Rebecca Westberry’s glam Ghost of Christmas Present who leads the cast in a Santa tap routine. Directors Mark Magill and Martin John Bristow have ably condensed the piece to suit the limitations of the Lost space but this is a musical designed for a Broadway staging.