Scrooge in Love! Earned a standing ovation at 42nd Street Moon
SCROOGE IN LOVE!: Musical. Book by Duane Poole. Music by Larry Grossman. Lyrics by Kellen Blair. Director Dyan McBride. 42nd Street Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA. Box Office: 415/255-8207 or www.42ndstmoon.org. December 4-22, 2019.
Scrooge in Love! Earned a standing ovation at 42nd Street Moon. Rating:
The adage “the third time is the charmer” does not apply to 42nd Street Moon’s third staging of the marvelous new Christmas ‘classic’ musical Scrooge in Love! The show was a smash hit from its world premiere in 2015 at what was then the Eureka Theatre. This was followed by a sold out extended performance in 2017 at the downtown Marine Memorial Theatre. On opening night Saturday December 7 at the same venue as the world premiere now named the Gateway Theatre it has “aged’ well with time in this classy new production.
The story-line of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is well known and it is on the boards locally in multiple theaters including musical versions doctoring up the play. Scrooge in Love has most of the original characters based on the novel without the dark story line of self-redemption. In this version fashioned by Duane Poole (book), Larry Grossman (music) and Kelleen Blair (lyrics) “we find a reformed Scrooge looking for his lost love, Belle, and being revisited by the Past, Present, and Future ghostly friends!” This time they are hilarious, helpful and harmless as they lead him to a path of love.
It is 1844 London and the creators have envisioned Scrooge’s life after his fateful conversion by the ghost of Jacob Marley and the three ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Be sure to secure your ticket to Scrooge in Love! (the exclamation point is part of the title) again starring the inimitable Jason Graae with a strong supporting cast playing out on the handsome multi-area detailed set (Mark Mendelson). It has earned the designation as San Francisco classic holiday fare.
The additional characters conjured up by the creators include three major persons from Scrooge’s youthful days. They include a young Ebenezer (Matt Skinner) his love interest Belle (Jenny Veilleux) and swain Dick Wilkins (Matt Hammons). True love never runs smoothly and so it was with the youthful insecure Ebenezer as well as the reformed Scrooge.
The time is one year after the delivery of the plump goose to the Cratchit household. Scrooge has used his money to perform good deeds and is appreciated by locals who dance and sing up a storm dressed in Regency costumes (Rebecca Valentino). A major portion of the first act takes place in Scrooge’s bedroom with Jason Graae dressed in an ankle length white nightgown as he meets those four ghostly visitors.
Those visitors are whimsically dominating as they offer Scrooge advice on his way to love. First up is the ghost of Jacob Marley (Edward Hightower) draped in chains to advise Scrooge of the visitors yet to come and they come one by one each creating show-stopping moments.
The musical evening starts with a carol “Like a Person in Love.” This is followed by Scrooge basking in his transformation into a ‘good-guy’ all “In Just One Year.” Choreographer Staci Arriga demonstrates her talents early with the cast dancing up a storm sharing in Scrooge’s joy (“A Regular Day”). 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.
In the tableau of the past, young Scrooge played to perfection by handsome tenor Matt Skinner meets Belle and love blooms in “You’re Safe with Me.” Inexperienced young Scrooge shares a duet with older Scrooge again bemoaning “The Things You Should Have Done.”
It is now time to meet the catalysts in the story-line. Jacob Marley (a superlative performance by Edward Hightower) is the first to arrive draped in chains to advise (warn?) Scrooge of what is yet to come. Then, arriving on the staircase landing is full voiced Andrea Dennison-Laufer in an unbelievable costume where Scrooge greets her with the question, “The ghost of Christmas Past, I presume?” With her tremendous voice she is perfect to play Rose in Gypsy. The tongue-in- cheek tone is set for the entire evening.
The Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Springhorn Jr.) comes charging down the aisle up to the stage in a costume that must be seen to believe and proceeds to dominate the show. However, no one upstages Jason Graae who maintains his aplomb and they have a smashing duet “Do it Now.” Scrooge carries on waiting for the Ghost of Christmas Future (Matt Hammons) who has a quiet touching scene in the graveyard where they observe the mature Belle.
The major theme of Act II is “You Can’t Put a Price on Love” to back up the plaintive reprise of “How Did I Survive” in a lovely duet by our two lovebirds.
The show races to the rousing “Finale Ultima” and the entire cast of 16 parades down the aisle capping a heartwarming evening of theatre. Running time is two hours and 20 minutes with an intermission.
CAST: JASON GRAAE as Ebenezer Scrooge; Jessica Coker as Juliana/Mrs. Fezziwig; Chloe Dalzell in Ensemble; Kaelin Dalzell in Ensemble; Dresden Davis as Tiny Tim; Andrea Dennison-Laufer as Ghost of Christmas Past; Tucker Gold as Peter Cratchit; Michael Grasso in Ensemble; Matt Hammons as Minister/Dick Wilkins/Ghost of Christmas Future; Adrienne Herro as Mrs. Cratchit; Edward Hightower as Jacob Marley; Lucinda Laughlin in Ensemble; Simone Nola Lee in Ensemble; Miranda Long as Nora/Ensemble; Carmen Lessa in Ensemble; Brittney Monroe as Martha Cratchit; Sean O’Brien as Bob Cratchit; Jourdan Oliver-Verde in ensemble; Jon-David Randle in Ensemble; Matt Skinner as Young Scrooge; Will Springhorn, Jr. as Ghost of Christmas Present; Jenny Villeux as Belle; Ted Zoldan as Fred/Mr. Fezziwig.
CREATIVE STAFF: Director Dyan MacBride; Music Director Ken Brill; Choreographer Staci Arriaga; Scenic Designer Mark Mendelson; Lighting Designer Michael Palumbo; Costume Designer Rebecca Valentino; Stage Manager Alicia Lerner; Key Art Design by DC Scarpelli.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
- (L to R) Will Springhorn Jr., Andrea Dennison-Laufer, Jason Graae, and Edward Hightower. Photo: Ben Krantz Studio.