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Scrooge – The Mayflower, Southampton

Writer: Based on the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Director: Bob Tomson

Reviewer: Naomi Stevens


Scrooge - Liverpool EmpireWith a multitude of catchy numbers and a fabulously festive story, Scrooge contains the ingredients for an entertaining family production. Of course, the story is not a new one. A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, has been told in many forms over the years so it is familiar to old and young alike. That said, the reminder to all that a bit of kindness and love shown to others makes life better is not a bad thing, and that, after all, is the underlying moral of the story.

This interpretation of it, with songs by Leslie Bricusse and directed by Bob Tomson, is an upbeat and lively production. The essence of Victorian London is captured perfectly within the set, props and costume so the audience are immediately drawn into the 1840’s. Right from the start the ensemble are extremely strong and their songs are a delight to hear. Many sound almost familiar but whether they are or they aren’t, they will make you smile particularly December the Twenty-Fifth and Thank You Very Much.

Tommy Steele plays the title character, a rôle he has played eight times previously. It is clear he knows the part thoroughly and he is word perfect throughout. His Scrooge seems rather less scary than some variations of the character, due perhaps to some of his lines and actions being slightly comical. This could be due to the family-oriented nature of the production. However he is as grumpy and as anti-Christmas as is appropriate.

It wouldn’t be the famous story without the ghosts and these are done cleverly; it is clear which spirit is which and why they are there. Jacob Marley (Barry Howard) is all white and looks convincing, he is also amusing and a highlight was his Make The Most of This World, where he is joined by other unfortunate phantoms. There are several special effects used during the ghostly parts of the show, created by Paul Kieve, as well as lighting and sound effects which all add to the atmosphere.

Within this musical there are a large number of characters, not least the Cratchit family. Bob Cratchit (Steve Hansell) is a true family man and his kindness came through. The young lad playing Tiny Tim never once slipped out of character and seemed right at home on stage. Another character who stands out is the young Ebenezer (Craig Whiteley). He has a couple of songs – Happiness and You…You which show off his strong voice nicely. Whiteley also doubles up as Harry, Scrooge’s nephew.

There was no weak link with any of the casting and the songs come thick and fast, with plenty of dancing, all choreographed by Lisa Kent. There were some amusing moments, as well as a few jumpy and slightly spooky ones – children may find some of these scary – however the many children in the audience all appear to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. This production will make even the most miserly feel festive and the audience will be humming the tunes long after the final curtain falls. Good fun.


Runs until Sat 16th November 2013


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