A Christmas Carol ★★★★ Rose Theatre | Dec 2, 2022 - Jan 2, 2023

This updated version of Dickens' classic has the author on stage developing his story in collaboration with a group of impoverished children from what the Victorians called a Ragged School. This frame allows the members of the Rose Youth Theatre to display their talents and puts Dickens' message into the context of the social responsibility to address poverty and inequality. While individual acts of kindness and charity are important, they cannot substitute for a society's obligation to deal with these issues on a larger level. The Ragged Schools were a previous generation's inadequate response to the issue, and this production asks us to consider how much better are we doing today. The story is quite close to Dickens' original version and it is nicely paced so as not to tire the younger members of the audience. Eamonn O'Dwyer's songs like "Tock Tick" and "You Can't Take It With You" are wonderfully catchy and immediately had the audience humming along. The enthusiasm of the Rose Young Company members is absolutely infectious, and they provide terrific support for Penny Layden's outstanding interpretation of Scrooge. Penny Layden is delightfully convincing as the miserly curmudgeon haunted by her past, in denial of her present and terrified by her future. Director, Rosie Jones, and Adapter, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm have created a thoroughly entertaining experience that captures the spirit of Dickens' work and draws out its relevance for a modern audience. The final production number of the musical is "Magic!" and here's a show that lives up to that epithet.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Douet.

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