A Christmas Carol (musical)

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A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol-Cloth-First Edition 1843.jpg
Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol
Cloth-First Edition 1843
MusicAlan Menken
LyricsLynn Ahrens
BookMike Ockrent
Lynn Ahrens
BasisCharles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol
Productions1994 Madison Square Garden
2004 Film
 
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For the 2004 film adaptation, see A Christmas Carol (2004 film).
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol-Cloth-First Edition 1843.jpg
Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol
Cloth-First Edition 1843
MusicAlan Menken
LyricsLynn Ahrens
BookMike Ockrent
Lynn Ahrens
BasisCharles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol
Productions1994 Madison Square Garden
2004 Film

A Christmas Carol is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens. The musical is based on Charles Dickens' 1843 novella of the same name. The show was presented annually at New York City's Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden from 1 December 1994 to 27 December 2003.[1][2]

Productions[edit]

A Christmas Carol premiered on 1 December 1994. It was performed annually in December at the Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden from December 1994 until December 2003.[1][2]

The original 1994 production was directed by Mike Ockrent with choreography by Susan Stroman, sets by Tony Walton, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, sound by Tony Meoloa, and musical direction by Paul Gemignani. Walter Charles played Ebenezer Scrooge.[2]

In the December 2002 production, directed by Mike Ockrent and with choreography by Susan Stroman, F. Murray Abraham portrayed Scrooge.[3]

Tim Curry, Tony Randall, Roddy McDowall (in his final role), Frank Langella, Tony Roberts, Jim Dale, and Roger Daltrey have all played the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge in productions of A Christmas Carol.[4]

In 2004, the production was adapted for television and produced by Hallmark Entertainment for NBC. It was directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman and features Kelsey Grammer as Ebenezer Scrooge, Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley, Jesse L. Martin as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Jennifer Love Hewitt as Scrooge's former fiancée.

Synopsis[edit]

The opening numbers are "The Years Are Passing By" and "Jolly, Rich, and Fat". In later productions the two numbers are combined as "Jolly Good Time." Scrooge first encounters the three ghosts of Christmas in their real-world guises as a lamplighter (Past), a charity show barker (Present), and a blind beggar woman (sometimes cast as Future) ("Nothing to Do With Me"). Scrooge's long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit, and Bob's son Tiny Tim, purchase a Christmas chicken ("You Mean More to Me").

The visit of the ghost of Jacob Marley ("Link By Link"), features a half-dozen singing, dancing spirits presented with various levels of makeup and special effects. One of these ghosts in this version is known to be an old colleague of Scrooge and Marley's, Mr. Haynes, who was said to be "mean to the bone", resulting in his charred skeleton. Other puns include a spirit with a safe embedded in his chest, who "never had a heart".

The Ghost of Christmas Past reinforces the character's signature theme of illuminating Scrooge's worldview ("The Lights of Long Ago"). One notable departure from Dickens' novella in this portion of the film is its depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge's father, identified as John William Scrooge, being sentenced to debtors' prison while his horrified family looks on; this scene was inspired by an actual occurrence from Dickens' own childhood.

The Ghost of Christmas Present ("Abundance and Charity" and "Christmas Together"), makes his point that Christmas is a time for celebration, generosity, and fellowship. The former takes place at a fantastical version of the charity show he was seen promoting on Christmas Eve, and the latter whisks Scrooge on a tour of London that includes the homes of his nephew Fred, his clerk Bob Cratchit, and Mr. Smythe, a recently widowed client of Scrooge's lending house.

The entire Christmas Future ("Dancing On Your Grave", "You Mean More to Me (Reprise)", and "Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today"), culminates in Scrooge's awakening in his bedroom on Christmas morning.

"What a Day, What a Sky" bookends "Nothing to Do With Me", dramatizing Scrooge's new outlook as he races through the streets of London making amends. The film concludes with a reprise of "Christmas Together" featuring the entire cast.

Musical numbers[edit]

1995 Recording cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

David Richards, reviewing for The New York Times, wrote of the 1994 premiere performance, "It would be ill-advised to head off to this 'Christmas Carol' expecting great performances, unless you're expecting them from the stagehands... Although Walter Charles, who portrays Scrooge, is onstage constantly, you can forget for long patches that 'A Christmas Carol' is about his conversion to goodness." He wrote of the score, "After the spectacle, the score by Mr. Menken (with lyrics by Ms. Ahrens) is the production's major drawing card... Musically speaking, Mr. Menken is an optimist, which sometimes puts him at odds with Dickens but probably makes him the right man when it comes to spreading good cheer. Ms. Ahrens keeps her lyrics simple. To the extent that I could hear them, they are not unintelligent."[2]

Lawrence Van Gelder reviewed the 2002 production for The New York Times writing, "Music, dance, colorful costumes and atmospheric scenery -- all intended to make holiday theatergoing a pleasant family experience -- are marshaled here to satisfying effect." Of F. Murray Abraham's performance, Gelder wrote: "Far from the terrifying figure who made blind men's dogs tug their owners into doorways and up courts, Mr. Abraham can scarcely contain the good cheer waiting to burst out in little bits of business before his ghostly encounters."[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "A Christmas Carol Additional Facts". A Christmas Carol (Broadway)at Music Theatre International (MTI). Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Richards, David (2 December 1994). "A Famous Miser, Tiny Tim And a Tap-Dancing Chorus". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Van Gelder, Lawrence (11 December 2002). "Scrooge's Benign Tendencies Slip Out". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "A Christmas Carol Synopsis and Production". A Christmas Carol (Broadway)at Music Theatre International (MTI). Retrieved 24 January 2010. 

External links[edit]