Richard Ryan in A Christmas Carol the Musical. Photo: Cyndi Powell Chaney
A Christmas Carol the Musical
Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens
Directed by Cathy Ryan
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2022 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
This morning folks were surprised by the blanket of snow and colder temperatures. With the holidays creeping closer each day, you can’t help but feel holiday cheer right now. Clarksville Little Theater has sprung into the holly jolly season with the musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This is one musical that will stir up the festive spirit for any humbug.
For a show with a big cast, the song and dance numbers are even bigger. Using recorded music, the show does not skip a beat in telling the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s visitation by spirits on the night before Christmas in Victorian-era England. The backdrop shows an ever-present London skyline as set simple set pieces swiftly move in and out of view. Originally a holiday spectacle at the likes of Madison Square Gardens, this performance holds on to the essence of a big show within the tiny stage. Large ensemble scenes like “Hear the Bells,” “Christmas Together,” and “Fezziwigs Annual Christmas Ball” show well-defined choreography even if the surrounding staging seems crowded with high traffic patterns.
Richard Ryan brings a familiar grouchiness as the crotchety Scrooge. He savors his moments of grumpiness and is not afraid to be cross with anyone who gets in his way. Through his Christmas eve journey, Ryan’s Scrooge is awoken to new perspectives and a change of heart. He sings a lovely rendition of “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” that surpasses any familiar carol with its spirited musical flair. John Trueblood is spooky as can be as Jacob Marleys ghost. Armed with chains, Trueblood is ghoulish with heightened drama as he warns Scrooge of what is to come.
As for the Ghosts who visit Scrooge that night, Cassidy Ross, Dan O’Neil and Kathy Todd Chaney each bring fully realized performances as watchful spirits. Ross lends an airy soprano to her glowing and glittery Ghost of Christmas past.
While looking back on Scrooge’s life, we see Young Scrooge fall in love. Owen Elsbury and Olivia Middleton share a duet full of what young love could be with “A Place Called Home.” Kevin Swansey and Cindy Smith have a literal ball as they lead their party guests and ensemble through dance as Mister and Misses Fezziwig.
O’Neil brings big energy to the robed Ghost of Christmas Present. Accompanied by matching tap dancers, He is a larger than life presence in “Abundance and Charity” at the top of the second act. Kathy Todd Chaney’s Ghost of Christmas Future moves and twirls with finesse. The supporting cast bring meaningful performances from the large cast. Jason Lindsey as Bob Cratchit comes across as relatable with his struggles to appease the ever demanding Scrooge. He is a caring father to his family, especially Tiny Tim, played with endearing tenacity by Kaelin Ouzts.
A Christmas Carol the Musical at Clarksville Little Theatre remains true to the Dickens story and has some very entertaining moments. While the source material is constantly reprised in one way or another during the holiday season, Scrooge’s tale of charity and compassion is universal. And its something that we all need to be reminded of right now.
A Christmas Carol the Musical
November 11-13, 18-20Clarksville Little Theatre
301 Montgomery ave
Clarksville, IN 47129
Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!