Fancy a feelgood fillip to counteract these cold, cheerless days? The Rose Theatre’s festive show – always a high point of the year – is a truly spectacular pick-me-up. Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s interpretation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a vibrant musical led by a surprisingly small adult cast of five, backed by a splendid
Fancy a feelgood fillip to counteract these cold, cheerless days? The Rose Theatre’s festive show – always a high point of the year – is a truly spectacular pick-me-up.
Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s interpretation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a vibrant musical led by a surprisingly small adult cast of five, backed by a splendid tribe of young performers from the Rose’s own youth theatre.
Eamonn O’Dwyer’s music hits the spot with half a dozen fresh songs which wouldn’t be out of place in the West End, while Rosie Jones’ direction (assisted by former Rose youth performer Holly Reddaway) is spot-on.
It works by harnessing the power of Charles Dickens’ original tale of miserly misery, revelation and transformation, while adding a trademark Rose gender-bending twist. It’s still the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption, but SHE is unlike any Scrooge we’ve yet seen.
The show, which runs until Jan 2, is full of song, dance and movement, with the stage topped by a huge circular projection screen (Josh Pharo handles video design as well as lighting) where a vast clockface chops and changes to power the plot along.
There’s really nothing to fault. Olivia Shouler has had immense fun devising the choreography, while George Dennis’s sound fills the auditorium.
A 42-strong youth cast is split into two alternating companies to play everything from ragged schoolkids to ghosts, Cratchit children to younger versions of the adults. Special mention to Penny Bennett, playing the young Scrooge. She cut her teeth in the annual cornerHOUSE pantos in Tolworth, and it’s great to see how she’s blossomed into such a confident, expressive performer.
Elexi Walker (another intriguing gender shift) plays Dickens; a narrator who mischievously interacts with the audience. Penny Layden is Scrooge, evolving from penny-pinching curmudgeon to enlightened benefactor with empathy and style, while Killian Macardle and Natasha Magigi are Bob and Mrs Cratchit, and Lizzie Winkler the clownlike Ghost of Christmas Present.
It’s a pacey, jaunty yet thoughtful musical, with background themes echoing our own stressful modern times. Rightly there was a standing ovation at the end of the press night to salute a show full of magic, happiness and hope, pointing the way towards a dreamed-of humbug-free future.
The box office number is 020 8174 0090, or book at rosetheatre.org