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Scrooge Sings Songs of the Season

Dickens’ classic is a musical at LTA.

This "Scrooge" is a massive undertaking for the Little Theatre of Alexandria. The program for their holiday show lists over a hundred people involved behind the scenes, from director Roland Branford Gomez to the trio that arranged the opening night party — and this doesn’t even count the 34 people in the cast.

The full title of the show is "Scrooge: The Musical" and it is a full stage adaptation of the musical movie from 1970 which had songs by Britain’s Leslie Bricusse, who also contributed the score for "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and other well known musicals.

The singing Scrooge is Mike Baker, Jr. who is better when he’s being the mean old skinflint than when he’s simply watching others, and, of course, Scrooge has to spend a lot of time being shown the scenes that the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet To Come use to teach him the lesson of the season and introduce him to the wonderful taste of the milk of human kindness.

Baker is a delight when grousing "I Hate Christmas" ("I hate seeing paupers and peasants squandering pennies on presents …") and makes the transition to philanthropist of note with a few high notes of his own in the process of learning to "Like Life."

Things get off to a lovely start with practically the entire cast on stage singing Christmas songs in their superb period costumes before the impressive set of a street in holiday London. Gomez and his lighting designer Justin Lang start off with the cast members in silhouette making an impressive stage picture that then springs to life.

As is often the case with Gomez-directed shows, careful attention to the blocking of the cast and the creation of striking poses tends to slow things down a bit as the lights don’t come up on a new scene until everything is in readiness. With this production’s reliance on special effects, including an elevator to allow ghosts to slide up through a fog of mist or descend through the floor, the pacing is steady if stately.

Frank Pasqualino is a friendly ghost of Scrooge’s late partner, Jacob Marley, weighed down with the chain of his misdeeds, who foretells the arrival of the other ghosts. Jessica Vega starts the tour of Scrooge’s life as the Ghost of Christmas Past with a sense of ethereal reserve. Kate Roehr, sporting golden curls so long it looks as if she’s borrowed a wig from Rapunzel, is sharp with her quick-witted replies to Scrooge’s questions as the spirit that shows him the present. The Ghost of Christmas Future is completely covered by the costume and mask for the role so the audience can’t tell if it is Mark Lee Adams or John Shakelford handling the role. They alternate at different performances and also handle other roles such as that of the employer of the young Scrooge, Mr. Fezziwig.

There are some fine performances in the roles of other people important in Scrooge’s life such as Bob Maurer who is in good voice for his songs as Bob Cratchit, Jay R. Sigler and Caitlin Diana Doyle as Scrooge as a young man and his young love Isabel, and Emma Kelly who makes the most of Tiny Tim’s song "This Beautiful Day."

The production uses a good deal of stage fog, so much that the audience is often enveloped in a cloud of mist, which makes it difficult for some to breathe. The addition of some ventilation or simply the installation of fans along the side aisle might make the show more inviting for some patrons.

<i>Brad Hathaway reviews theater in Virginia, Washington and Maryland as well as Broadway, and edits Potomac Stages, www.PotomacStages.com. He can be reached at <a href="mailto:"Brad@PotomacStages.com">Brad@PotomacStages.com.

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