BY PATRICIA DUFF,
Whidbey Life Magazine
Mr. Bah Humbug turns out to be not so bad in the end, and that’s part of what Christmas is all about. What better way to celebrate the theme of forgiveness, while singing at the top of one’s lungs and dancing around onstage?
Indeed. Lots of Whidbey Island neighbors singing award-winning songs, while the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge transforms into the very soul of generosity, are just two reasons to see “Scrooge: The Musical” at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley through Dec. 15.
Tristan Steel directed the play, with a score and book that are closely adapted from the the 1970 musical film “Scrooge” starring Albert Finney. With a book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, the play has been an enormous success in England and the United States. Bricusse was nominated for the Academy Award for the song score he wrote for the film, and most of those songs were carried over to the musical.
But beyond the great score, it’s whose singing their hearts out onstage that impresses the director of this community production.
“My favorite thing about this show is that I have the privilege of introducing the youngest cast members to our world of theater and seeing their joy as they discover the craft,” Steel said, referring to the large cast of more than 30 performers, which includes several children.
Based on Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, “A Christmas Carol,” the story follows the miserly life of businessman Ebenezer Scrooge and his dramatic life change that comes as a result of his Christmas Eve encounters with the ghosts of his Christmases of past, present and future. The story also includes the struggling but loving Bob Cratchit family, who remain under the thumb of Cratchit’s employer Scrooge, but whose youngest child, “Tiny Tim,” reaches the heart of Mr. Scrooge and becomes another catalyst for the former miser’s good will toward everyone.
Musical director Sheila Weidendorf noted that the process of getting a large group of folks to sing a message of love is the thing.
“It is always an interesting prospect to enter the world of musical theater,” Weidendorf said.
For someone coming from a classical music background such as herself, Weidendorf said the most important goal is to be able to communicate to the audience through the music. She wants her singers to deliver the music in a coherent way.
“The story of Scrooge is well known and much-loved,” she said.
“Our challenge is to deliver the story through the sensory delights of sight, movement and sound. The greatest joy for me in the process of putting ‘Scrooge’ together is bringing music into being where, before, there was silence. The trick is … to find that place where the musical magic can happen; where that coherent sound comes alive, and brings both meaning and joy to the moment,” she added.
Of course, Weidendorf and Steel are helped in their cause by the musical score which features among other songs, Mr. Scrooge and company singing “I Hate People,” and “It’s Not My Fault!” in the first act, and “The Milk of Human Kindness,” and “I’ll Begin Again,” in the second.
Production director Deana Duncan said the show is perfect for family, holiday entertainment.
“I think audiences will enjoy the musical version of this much loved tale and, for those sharing it with young family members for the first time, it should be very special,” Duncan said.
“Tristan has done a wonderful job with this cast and his set design will surprise you with its many moving parts; it acts like a pop-up book with reveal after reveal after reveal. Very clever,” she added.
WICA’s production of “Scrooge: The Musical” features Rich Doyle as Scrooge, with Tony Caldwell, Jim Carroll, Tom Churchill, Clara Larson-Clifford, Ben Germano, Cameron Gray, Liam Henny, Rose Hughes, Jill Johnson, Gwen Jones, Kent Junge, Antonia Knox, Melanie Lowey, Susan “Sage” Maloch, Paul Mathews, Michelle McGowan, Kaylie McRea, Nicholas Muller, Margaret Rose Nattress, Molly Nattress, Carson-Keeley Orr, Margeaux Scholz, Rob Scott, Aleah Stacey, Ken Stephens, Sarah Swanberg, Andy Walker, Juliana Larson-Wickman, Sophia Wickman and Dwight Zehm.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through Saturday, Dec. 15.
Tickets range from $15 – $24 are available by contacting the WICA Ticket Office (360) 221-8268 or (800) 638-7631. Additional information is at www.WICAonline.com.
Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist whose most recent kudos include several wins in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2011 competition.
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