Marvelous world premiere of SCROOGE IN LOVE! starring Jason Graae

(l-r) The Ghost of Christmas Past (Elise Youssef, center) reconnects Scrooge (Jason Graae) with his lost love, Belle (Melissa Reinertson) in 42nd Street Moon's World Premiere presentation of SCROOGE IN LOVE!, running November 25-December 13, 2015 at The Eureka Theatre in San Francisco.

(l-r) The Ghost of Christmas Past (Elise Youssef, center) reconnects Scrooge (Jason Graae) with his lost love, Belle (Melissa Reinertson) in 42nd Street Moon’s World Premiere presentation of SCROOGE IN LOVE!, running November 25-December 13, 2015 at
The Eureka Theatre in San Francisco.

SCROOGE IN LOVE!: Musical. Book by Duane Poole. Music by Larry Grossman. Lyrics by Kellen Blair. 42nd Street Moon @ The Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA, San Francisco. (415) 255-8207 or www.42ndStMoon.org. November 25 – December 13, 2015.

Marvelous world premiere of SCROOGE IN LOVE! starring Jason Graae. Rating: ★★★★★

Duane Poole (book) and Larry Grossman (music) teamed up with Carol Hall (lyrics) to write the musical version of Truman Capote’s short story A Christmas Memory that premiered in 2010 at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley in Palo Alto moving to Off-Broadway in 2014. This time around Poole and Grossman brought along Kellen Blair to write the lyrics for a follow up on Ebenezer Scrooge’s life after his harrowing journey in A Christmas Carol.

There have been many variations of A Christmas Carol and it has become a staple production year after year at many venues in the Bay Area and throughout the U.S.A. Have you ever thought what life was like for Scrooge after his fateful conversion by the ghost of Jacob Marley and the three ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future? Think no more and secure your ticket to Scrooge in Love! (the exclamation point is part of the title) starring the inimitable Jason Graae and a strong supporting cast. It has all the ear marks of becoming a staple holiday treat in many venues.

This musical has a ‘feel-good’ storyline that is appropriate for the Holiday Season. The music and lyrics are charming throwbacks to the time before overly amplified rock-n-roll, hip-hop and rap became de rigor for stage musicals. Most of the characters are there from the original story with the addition of Belle (first rate soprano voiced Melissa Reinertson) who is the love interest of Scrooge (Jason Graae-more about him later).

Yes, Scrooge gets his visits from the ghosts but this time they are whimsical yet dominating as they show Scrooge the way to love. First up is the ghost of Jacob Marley (a superlative performance by Ryan Drummond) draped in chains to advise (warn?) Scrooge of the upcoming visitors.

Before this happens the evening starts with a carol “Like a Person in Love.” This is followed by Scrooge basking in his transformation into ‘good-guy’ all “In Just One Year.” Choreographer Staci Arriga demonstrates her talents early with the cast sharing in Scrooge’s joy (“A Regular Day”).

Then, arriving done the aisle is sexy brass-voiced Elise Yussef in an unbelievable costume with a mechanical contraption blowing bubbles into the audience and onto the stage where Scrooge greets her with the question, “The ghost of Christmas Past, I presume?” Her tremendous voice shatters glass (off stage of course). The tongue-in- cheek tone is set for the entire evening.

In the tableau of the past, young Scrooge played to perfection by handsome tenor Kalon Thibodeaux who meets Belle and love blooms in “You’re Safe With Me.” Inexperienced young Scrooge shares a duet with Scrooge bemoaning “The Things You Should Have Done.”

With relatively swift changes of minimal props the story ventures on with brass voiced baritone Will Springhorn, Jr. dominating the stage in a hysterical interpretation of Ghost of Christmas Present. Just for the record Tiny Tim (a charming eight year old Michael Grasso) is no longer crippled and bounces around the stage like a true professional.

As usual Scrooge screws up and true love does not run smoothly before Scrooge learns from his encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Future (David Naughton) that Belle still loves him.

Although Jason Graae is absolute superb in the lead role with his mobile face, nimble dancing feet, admirabe voice and perfect stage presence he does not overshadow his accomplished supporting cast. Ted Zoldan and Heather Orth twice take turns on center stage with their exceptional duets and the ensemble voices blend in smoothly. Rebecca Valentino’s period costumes add flair to the proceedings and the musical trio with musical director Dave Dobrusky at the piano, Ken Brill on the synthesizer and cellist Ami Hasimoto do great justice to the score.

Director Dyan McBride keeps the action flowing smoothly on Hector Zavala’s Aavala’s attractive versatile set with accolades for Rebecca Valentino’s period costumes and the garb she designed for the ghosts.. Running time two hours and 15 minutes including the intermission and it is highly recommended.

CAST: Jason Graae as Scrooge; Melissa Reinerston as Belle; Elise Youssef as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Will Springhorn as the Ghost of Christmas Present, David Naughton as the Ghost of Christmas Future and Dick Wilkins; Ryan Drummond as Jacob Marley. The ensemble also features Anjali Blacker as Nora/Maggie, Michael Grasso as Tiny Tim, Brittney Monroe as Martha, Heather Orth as Juliana/Mrs. Fezzigwig, David Ryan as Peter/Turkey Boy, Kalon Thibodeaux as Young Scrooge, Andrew Willis-Woodward as Bob Cratchit, Skye Violet Wilson as Mrs. Cratchit, and Tod Zoldan as Fred/Mr. Fezziwig.

ARTISTIC STAFF: Dyan McBride, Director; Hector Zavala , Set Designer; will be Staci Arriaga, Choreographer; Dave Dobrusky, Musical director; Danny Maher, Lighting Designer; Noah Kramer, Props designer; Rebecca Valentino, Costume designer..

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com

(l-r) The Ghost of Christmas Past (Elise Youssef, center) reconnects Scrooge (Jason Graae) with his lost love, Belle (Melissa Reinertson) in 42nd Street Moon’s World Premiere presentation of SCROOGE IN LOVE!, running November 25-December 13, 2015 at
The Eureka Theatre
in San Francisco.