A Christmas Carol Is A Christmas Cracker

Penny Flood enjoys the Tabard's latest musical

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It’s Christmas and that means The Tabard is putting of one of its musical specials – HOORAY! This year it’s A Christmas Carol, The Musical. With lots of singing, and dancing, it’s great fun and a smashing way to get into the Christmas spirit.

This is a coup for The Tabard as they are the first to be given the rights to present it professionally in the UK, and they’ve done it proud. It was a Broadway hit, with music by Alan Menken, who has also scored for many Disney movies, and lyrics by award-winning Lynne Ahrens. It has been performed often at Madison Square Gardens and Frasier’s Kelsey Grammar played Scrooge in a television version.

It has all the elements of the Dickens’ classic: wealthy, grumpy miser Ebenezer Scrooge moves from thinking Christmas is humbug through a transformation sparked by three ghosts, emerging kind, generous and full of the warmth of Christmas spirit, shedding a few tears along the way. He starts out a true pantomime villain, the kind who’d swap new lamps for old in Aladdin, and ends up as everyone’s favourite uncle.

Director and choreographer Lee Greenaway makes excellent use of The Tabard’s stage, with strange phantoms and creatures popping in and out of the chimney place and a number of exhilarating set pieces.

The ghost of Jacob Marley is suitably creepy as he clanks out of the fireplace, weighed down forever by his chains accompanied by a chorus line of assorted ghouls. This sets the tone for the the more raucous routines, such as jolly Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball, where even young Scrooge is having a good time.

There are also tender and sentimental moments, such as the tear-jerking ‘Christmas Together’ sung by the Bob Cratchit and his family as they gather round a meagre Christmas dinner. Their disabled son Tiny Tim is one of nasty Scrooge’s victims because he treated Bob, his employee, so badly. There is also a yearning repeated song about a a ’Place Called Home’ that was once within reach for Scrooge.

There are a dozen actors but it feels like more as, with the exception of Scrooge who’s on stage the entire time, they all play lots of roles as well as joining in the ensemble of Londoners. All of this calls for some nifty costume changes.

It bowls along at a cracking pace in the skilful hands of Greenaway, backed by five musicians tucked backstage, under musical director Inga Davis-Rutter.

It’s a Christmas show for everyone – no age limits - and you’ll leave with a smile on your face, especially if your name is Ebenezer Scrooge!

December 12, 2013