‘Scrooge’ returns to the stage for the 41st year, playing now at the Nevada Theatre
Special to Prospector
Forty-one years strong, the perennial holiday favorite “Scrooge” is back at the Nevada Theatre in fine form under the able direction of Sue LeGate-Halford for LeGacy Presents. The show runs Thursday – Sunday through Dec. 24. This original production of the Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” has everything one hopes for in this holiday theater classic: Scrooge, ghosts and the Cratchits.
Whether one has read Dickens, or seen the movies, most know the incredible tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the curmudgeonly miser who sacrificed a life of love and happiness for the love of money. A man so stingy he begrudges his only employee Bob Cratchit even a half day off for Christmas, and pays him below his worth. Scrooge has no friends, and rejects even offers of kindness from his own family. After years of bah-humbugging at the Christmas holiday, the Spirit of Christmas has had enough. The Spirit sends three Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to show Scrooge the folly of his ways, and the path to redemption
Performed in two well-executed acts (with one fifteen minute intermission) the large cast of 18 performers tell this story with energy and heart. With so many standout performances not all can be mentioned in the space for this review. Candice Searles soars as the Ghost of Christmas Past; a sassy rather than scary foil. She shows Scrooge’s missed opportunity as a young man for a happy life with his beloved Belle, wonderfully acted and sung by Alexis Phillips. Next is the impressive Ian Swift as the Ghost of Christmas Present who ushers in the humble, loving Cratchit family, perfectly performed by Darrell Hovander, Candace Searles, Carlyn Forrest, Hope Searles and Robert Peters. And this Cratchit family would not be complete without the young Tiny Tim, infectiously played by Lhariya Illumine. Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Future, a huge, hulking, silent Grim Reaper is adeptly manipulated by Sawyer Maddux. Scrooge witnesses how in death he is loathed by the living. His belongings are looted and his corpse mistreated – all in good fun, of course – and he sees the light: a little kindness goes a long way. And he has to make up for a lot of lost time. The cast is a wonderful ensemble, and the ensemble scenes are some of the best in the show.
Rodger Hoopman, who not only wrote the book (script and lyrics) for the show, but also performs the title role of Ebenezer Scrooge, and has for 41 years, delivers a confident, sure performance. To his credit, from first moments, the audience doesn’t think of the actor behind the mask. We’re watching Scrooge. He is a mean old man who has lost touch with humanity, especially his own. He is short-tempered, and selfish. He appears cruel, and heartless. But in the end, he is simply lonely and too proud to say, “I’m sorry.” The power of Scrooge’s transition from bah-humbug to Merry Christmas which lights the stage with jigs and laughs is convincing, and contagious.
Sue LeGate-Halford adeptly directs this show for the fourth year. The staging is elegant and effortless. The action moves forward crisply. The script is well adapted, and true to Dickens’s story. The songs with Mr. Hoopman’s lyrics, and timeless melodies by Rob Knable feel like you’ve heard them before in their immediacy and accessibility. Angela Williams choreography is an added plus with very effective ensemble work. The colorful, grand and functional set design by Mister Hoopman is expertly built out by Alvis LeGate, Mark Shady and Ian Swift. All technical elements of this show (lighting, sound, costumes, props) are top notch and leave the audience feeling they’ve seen a professional quality production. Which they have.
The cast is a mix new actors and veterans, anchored by Mr. Hoopman’s Scrooge. For a show, and an actor playing the lead for 41 years, this production is alive, fresh, and filled with wonderful performances under excellent direction supported by all the color, sound and pageantry of good theater. “Scrooge” at the Nevada Theatre is one holiday tradition worth keeping.
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