Scrooge in Love
Since its publication in 1843, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been presented and adapted on stage and screen to the pleasure of audiences everywhere. Christmas season past, 42nd Street Moon premiered an addition to the constellation of holiday stars, the award winning Scrooge in Love. Now, a year hence, they have gussied up the show into an even more delightful musical that deserves a place in the repertoire.
The company has made a significant and well-deserved commitment to this show. Rather than play in its more intimate digs at the Eureka Theatre, they have taken up temporary residence at the much larger Marines Memorial for this production. Accordingly, the script has been expanded with a couple of added songs, and production values have been enhanced.
The storyline retains the roles of the main characters from the source work. However, the action occurs a year after A Christmas Carol with perhaps a nod to the movie Groundhog Day. Scrooge’s worst nightmare would be the possibility of having to relive the terrifying visitations from the three prophets, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. And that is exactly what happens.
But despite having become a generous and loving man since the previous Christmas, the ghosts are not through with him. You see, while he now engages with his family and his community in an exemplary manner, the ghosts are not satisfied that he returns to an empty home. So the ghosts are going to see what they can do about that.
Director Dyan McBride takes the Moon to a whole new level with Scrooge in Love. Staging is bigger with a full set. Period costumery is striking; movement and formal choreography is thoughtful; and lighting and sound match. Musical director Dave Dobrusky and two other instrumentalists provide fine musical support, which is much warmer and richer than is customary in Moon productions.
The role of Scrooge is reprised from the premiere production by the redoubtable Jason Graae who displays his great comic gifts. He is equally effective with verbal timing and physical humor, strutting about the stage like a bantam rooster. Another highlight is the Elise Youssef as the Ghost of Christmas Past. She introduces her bubbly personality by literally blowing bubbles and riotously giggling before she even speaks a line. And despite having a squeaking voice in the role, she demonstrates a good singing range with considerable power. Also noteworthy are Will Springhorn, Jr. as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Ryan Drummond as Scrooge’s deceased partner, Jacob Marley.
There is nothing surprising in this sequel to A Christmas Carol, but it re-enforces the central value of the Dickens novel – redemption. It also stresses the importance of seizing the moment and that the best things in life are truly free. The ending is happy, and the music is melodic with a nice blend of peppy numbers along with melodic ballads.
Scrooge in Love with music by Larry Grossman, lyrics by Kellen Blair, and book by Duane Poole, is produced by 42nd Street Moon Theatre and plays at Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter Street, San Francisco, through December 24, 2016.