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Scrooge The Musical

Nicola Mostyn feels anything but Bah Humbug

Published on December 13th 2007.

Scrooge The Musical

The Muppets have done it; Bill Murray had a go; now it is Shane Richie’s turn to appear in an adaptation of Dickens’ enduring tale of misanthropy and redemption, A Christmas Carol.

With his cheeky-chappie enthusiasm and rubber-ball endurance it is difficult not to like Richie, and I’ve tried quite hard.

With Richie in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge you would be forgiven for expecting the ghost of Christmas past to be a woman proffering her whites for a Daz Doorstep Challenge: truly the actor has come a long way since his days as the poor man’s Danny Baker.

And good on him. With his cheeky-chappie enthusiasm and rubber-ball endurance it is difficult not to like Richie, and I’ve tried quite hard. Still, it is a relief to see the former Butlins Redcoat suppress some of that cockney twinkle to play the miserable, miserly Scrooge.

In fact, he is barely recognisable. With his receding hairline, dour Victorian dress and curmudgeonly manner he is a cross between Victor Meldrew, Fagin and someone from The Fast Show. But it’s a combination which works, allowing Richie to imbue this well-known character with a touch of peevish immaturity which appeals greatly to the kids in the (pleasingly mixed) audience.

And happily, the cast are a match for the wide appeal of their leading man. Kicking off with a Victorian street scene and a medley of Christmas songs, the show continues with the sort of energetic and accomplished ensemble song and dance pieces which give musicals a good name.

The choreography is polished, the outfits and sets are wonderfully evocative and the voices faultless. And, if, vocally, Shane Richie is not exactly top of your Christmas list, he can at least carry a tune and his vivacity and charisma make up for the rest.

Cast-wise, other members worthy of note are Tiny Tim (Calum Craine) who has the ‘aahhhh!’ factor and milks it for all it’s worth and James Earl Adair, who is ghoulishly appealing as Scrooge’s damned business partner Jacob Marley.

In fact, the supernatural aspects of this production are spectacularly handled - clever tricks with the set and dramatic, atmospheric music from the orchestra making the ghostly appearances of the past, present and future genuinely chilling.

With all that plus at least two horrendously catchy songs which you will be foot-tappingly familiar with (Thank You Very Much and I Love Life) all that’s left is for Scrooge to discover his inner Shane Richie, throw off all that Bah Humbuggery and buy a bloody big turkey to conclude a great festive offering which should have you clicking your heels all the way to Christmas.

Scrooge The Musical, Palace Theatre, Oxford Road, M1 6FT 0870 401 9000. www.ticketmaster.co.uk, until Sat Jan 12, from £7.25

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