OGDEN — Last week I reviewed a new production of Charles Dickens‘s classic story A Christmas Carol over at the Parker Theatre (which I was very impressed with) and today I am delighted to talk about another version over at the Terrace Plaza Playhouse in Ogden officially titled Scrooge: A Christmas Carol. This retelling is a musical based on the 1970 film Scrooge starring Albert Finney. How much audiences love this version will probably depend a lot on how much they enjoy the songs but it can’t be denied it’s a fun, energetic production with lots of heart- just what A Christmas Carol demands.
I’ve now been to a number of shows at Terrace Plaza and in my opinion its greatest assets are the way it uses its ‘theater in the round’ multi-level stage and its large energetic cast. I know when I see something there it is going to have great choreography and a wonderful community spirit will permeate throughout. Scrooge is no exception. The group numbers like “December the 25th,” “He Hates People,” and especially “Thank You Very Much” are highlights.
I saw the Holly cast with Kim Florence as Scrooge and like Finney in the movie he has a sarcastic, not that mean, take on Scrooge. They even begin with him extending loans (with a fee) and cracking jokes. He’s rude and dismissive but not the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” Dickens describes in the book. This is fine, especially because this version is meant for families with little children, so I expect something more tame all around.
Jim Alvey and Tracie Davies make for a believable couple as the Cratchits with Beckett Ronnow being an absolutely adorable Tiny Tim. The Cratchits close off Act 1 with the bubbly song “Good Times” and Tim giving his message of hope that makes a big impression on Scrooge.
Like I said, one of my favorite parts about Terrace Plaza is how they use the stage with large ensemble casts and this is no exception. I loved the ghostly dancers accompanying Jacob Marley and the little girls accompanying Christmas Past in the “Christmas Past Ballet” are so cute. It adds to the community spirit when you see actors of all ages participating in productions like these.
I, for the most part, enjoyed the costumes and wigs by Cindy Simmons, Tani Lynch, Jim Tatton, Tami Richardson, and Jamila Lowe. In particular, the elaborate hats for the “Ladies of the Late Afternoon” are very impressive. The only costume I did not like was for Christmas Past. I realize in the movie she wears a red dress but this with its tutu and lights looked too silly. In fact, the entire Christmas Past performance by Jacci Olsen Florence (who is also the director) was too juvenile and silly for my taste. If the little girls hadn’t been there, the ballet would have felt interminable.
Another small gripe I had with the production is for the first 3 songs they had a lamppost, which served no purpose in the story, right in the middle of my line of sight blocking my view of the main stage. Thankfully they removed it for most of the production, but I would omit it entirely.
Shane Alvey steals the show as Tommy Jones a debtor of Scrooge’s who sells soup and sings the show’s best song “Thank You Very Much.” He has a fantastic voice and he nails the British accent better than anyone else in the cast. They also did a great job making Christmas Future (played by Jacob Taft) big and menacing, towering over Scrooge and everyone else on stage. Aside from him, any other scary sections are toned way down to make this a very kid-friendly version.
Unlike the Parker, this A Christmas Carol production is not trying to emphasize the social themes of the story. Ignorance and want are omitted completely and we are left cheerfully singing (the audience even began clapping at this point) over a man’s death without any introspection. This version isn’t trying to say anything beyond a basic story of redemption at Christmas, but that doesn’t bother me. I think there’s room for a variety of takes on such a classic story. This one keeps it pretty basic and easy for young ones to understand. If you are in the Ogden area Scrooge: A Christmas Carol at Terrace Plaza is a great option to take the whole family to and introduce children to live theater, dance and music.