A Christmas Carol review at Lyceum Theatre, London – ‘ravishingly played and luxuriously cast’
This musical version of Charles Dickens’ festive fable premiered at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1994, where it ran every Christmas for the next decade. It could well become an annual fixture in London, too – the London Musical Theatre Orchestra is presenting it for the third consecutive year in a concert staging at the Lyceum.
It’s one of a number of Christmas Carols in London – there’s Jack Thorne’s version at the Old Vic as well as Simon Callow’s perennial one-man show at the Arts, but this economically but atmospherically told staging is enchanting in its own right.
Alan Menken’s lovely, string-saturated score is superbly performed by LMTO under the baton of the orchestra’s founder Freddie Tapner. When a pit band rarely rises above 10 players, it’s a privilege to hear (and see) over 30 of them on stage.
The show also provides opportunity for a large cast to make a distinctive mark, too. Griff Rhys Jones is a more naturally sympathetic Scrooge than Robert Lindsay, who played the role in the first two years. His vocals may be less secure than Lindsay’s, but his progress from curmudgeon to a place of redemptive grace is more plausible.
The Stage Debut Award winner Miriam-Teak Lee, Cedric Neal and Lucie Jones make for a stellar trio of Christmases past, present and future, while Jeremy Secomb as Scrooge’s former business partner Jacob Marley, and David Hunter and Caroline Sheen as Bob Cratchit and Mrs Cratchit offer appealing portraits of family life, sealed by a scene-stealing Tobias Ungleson as Tiny Tim.
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