A Christmas Carol - The Musical
Based on the by Charles Dickens

Dates and Venue 14 - 30 November 2008, 8pm + 2pm matinees | Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Burnaby

Director Lalaina Lindbjerg Strelau Set Design Lalaina Lindbjerg Strelau Costumes Mariana Mah Lighting Des Renaud Musical Director Vashti Fairbairn

Reviewer John Jane

In A Christmas Carol – The Musical, Footlight Theatre brings to the Shadbolt Centre a full-blown, highly satisfying show that provides wonderful fun for the whole family. With live music supplied by Vashti Fairbairn and her seven-piece Orchestra and some energetic choreography by Lalaina Lindbjerg Strelau (who also served as director and set designer), this retelling of Charles Dickens’ timeless story of a misanthropist's redemption hardly misses a beat.

Under the stewardship of Lindbjerg Strelau, the show, despite its extravagance and verve succeeds without diluting the story's profound emotions and social morals.

Best of all, is the huge cast that includes three families and has some performers doubling as seamless scene shifters. Led by Equity member Ken Irwin, who gives a sublime tongue-in-cheek performance as Ebenezer Scrooge, local children, enthusiastic amateurs and seasoned professionals combine with marvellous synergy.

With such an excellent ensemble performance, identifying individual standouts is difficult. Though, Mandana Namazi, Chad Matchette and Vanessa Coley-Donohue as the friendly spirits of Christmases past, present and yet-to-be are more fun than frightening and having them appear earlier in different forms as townspeople is a nice directive touch. And who can forget nine-year-old Michelle Creber, the little girl who gave us such a heart-warming performance as Tiny Tim?

The players certainly weren’t let down by the quality of Mariana Mah’s costumes that give the show superb period detail and Lalaina Lindbjerg Strelau’s stylish sets evoke the time and place of Dickens’ London.

If there’s a single flaw, it’s perhaps that the Alen Menken and Lynn Ahrens songs, though performed well in this production, are barely distinguishable from one another. However, this is no fault of the show’s cast and crew and I did hear a couple of young audience members leaving the theatre humming “A place called home.”

© 2008 John Jane