If you are searching for some innocent family fun this holiday season, the Owen Theatre’s production of “Scrooge” may be just what you are looking for. Written by Leslie Bricusse and directed by Grace Thompson, this musical re-telling of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” has a hometown flavor with its cast of just plain folks from the Conroe area. And the audience had a similar make-up with lots of friends and family on hand to cheer for their many neighbors on stage. The story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a kindly soul is too familiar to recount here, but all the well-known characters are on hand to cheer your holiday.
On the pleasant SLOL set design constructed by Wess Bush, the bright opening number “Christmas Carol,” nicely displays the full sound of the coral ensemble. (Musical Direction from Shann Powers with piano accompaniment from Lee Barrow). Rod Allen neatly captures both extremes of Scrooge in a sometimes snarling performance that musically has both the mean-spirited (“I Hate People”) and the gentle (“I’ll Begin Again”) sides of this classic Dickens character. Robert Schlembach plays his cheerful nephew, and Harold Wood is the devoted family man, Bob Cratchit. Russell Cadwallader, Payton Russell, Reagan Scott and Sachi Tanaka do a fine job as the Cratchit children, while Renee Scott plays Mrs. Cratchit, and young Cameron Dunham gives a winning performance as Tiny Tim.
Energizing the production are the lively performances from W. Ryan Willingham as a delightfully merry Fezziwig, and Michael Cadwallader in a fun-filled portrayal of Tom Jenkins. With the pleasant light dancing of choreographer, Fay Beth Beckman, there is more fun as the townsfolk mock old Ebenezer in the cute “Father Christmas” number. Then the Fezziwigs lead the ensemble in the cheerful, “December the 25th.” Amy Thompson plays Mrs. Fezziwig, and of course we mustn’t forget the all-important Christmas ghosts that follow the spooky and smoky arrival of Marley‘s ghost (Will Radcliff). Lindsey Morris is the Ghost of Christmas Past, dressed in a beautiful cranberry-red gown that speaks well of costume designer, Sara Soland.
Following a somewhat static scene between Young Ebenezer and his sister, we have the welcome and sassy arrival of Jeff Elkins as the Ghost of Christmas Present. With one of the better voices in a somewhat vocally challanged cast, Elkins joins Mr. Allen for a rousing, “I Like Life” duet that has Scrooge becoming devilishly gay. Mrs. Cratchit follows, leading her family in a merrily prancing rendition of “Good Times” that is the perfect lead-in to Tiny Tim’s sweet and whimsical, “On A Beautiful Day.” That song was well-served by young Dunham whose performance reflected very well the optimism of the season. For still more enjoyment we had Mr. Cadwallader’s silly and joyous “Thank You Very Much,” with a smart cockney accent and great support from the ensemble. Of course we still had to face the hulking and ominous Ghost of Christmas Future (Steve Murphree), but even Scrooge survived it to sing his full-voiced resurrection in “I’ll Begin Again,” as he plays Santa (in a gorgeous costume) to the amazed Cratchit family. If you’re looking for an appropriate holiday experience for the kids, this is it. And you can be home early from this one-act production!
Remaining performances of Scrooge at Conroe’s new Owen Theatre will be at 8pm on Dec 5th, 6th, 12th, and 13th , with matinees on Dec 7th, and 14th at 2pm. For tickets and information call 936-539-4090, or visit the website at www.crightonplayers.org.