Over the years, I have come to regard the musical productions staged by LOS as a treat to relish. The standard is always high and LOS always boast an excellent production and staging team. "Scrooge" was no exception, I am pleased to relate!
The visionary and innovative director John Harries-Rees, together with the impressive musical director Colin Copestake have worked their magic together in many shows. Allied to Dickens's genius and with Leslie Bricusse's book, music and lyrics LOS - performing as Leatherhead Musical Theatre - could not fail to thrill the fortunate audience. A host of principals, ranging from the mesmeric Scrooge AKA Barry Stevens, to the merely very good performances of the chorus and children, brought John and Colin's show to sparkling life.
The well equipped theatre and spacious stage was used to its full effect. Stage manager Sarah Wood and her efficient team ensured the many changes of scene ran seamlessly one to another. I thought the stage management was of professional standard and made a huge impact on the enjoyment of this show. Praise therefore also for the DSM Jo Epps, ASMs Jacky Cook and Michael Ellis and all other stage technicians and crew. Well done all of you! I want to highlight the wonderful special sound and lighting effects, especially in the ghost scenes. Richard Pike on lighting, ably assisted by Tony Pike and Pat Waugh on follow spots used their skills superbly well. Stuart Vaughan on sound with his number two Phillipa Stone did likewise. The ghostly howling and wailing in Marley's entrance were spine tingling.
The use of atmospheric effect was top class and John Harries-Rees inspirational use of all his talented company and technicians really gave this production the "wow" factor.
Excellent costumes by Elizabeth Callow, Sally Dallosso among others, allied to painstaking wardrobe from Judith Kelly and Kate Fryer really caught the eye. Olivia Richardson both designed and made the impressive Christmas Present costume. Heather Rigg did splendid work on the vitally important make up.
Now to the stage performances in programme order:-
Ebenezer Scrooge - Barry Stevens - awesome, majestic - an artiste par excellence! Singing, acting,
movement, all made to look easy.
Jacob Marley - Alex Derbie - also a highly accomplished performer, great presence and diction.
Chillingly good, dragging a realistic chain.
Ghost of Christmas Past - Mandy Harris - a really emotionally and well played role, revealed to be
Ebenezer's long dead sister.
Ghost of Christmas Present - Paul Hyde - great presence, good voice and well cast.
Bob Cratchit - Nick Cross - played this decent, put upon character with great truth. Really looked
Kathy Cratchit - Charlotte Harris - showed poise, movement skills and, though still very young,
definitely one to watch!
Tiny Tim - Jacob Ogle - a part to die for, but he "did not die". In fact young Jacob stole the show!
Ethel Cratchit - Kimberley Allen - passionate, animated, a real matriarch type and a hugely enjoyable
Young Ebenezer / Harry - Peter Barnett - a good all round performer, nice singing voice too.
Isabel / Helen - Cheryl Blyth - graceful and elegant, all round good egg! Beautifully cast.
Tom Jenkins - Tom Paine - clearly a top performer. Made everything look easy.
Mr Fezziwig / Hugo Harty - Chris Stanton - another with natural presence. Shone as Fzziwig.
Mrs Fezziwig / Mrs Dilber - Clare Ogle - a good all rounder, moves well.
Mary / Miss Dilber - Helen Newhall - A rising star. Good all round stagecraft.
Jocelyn Jollygoode - David Layman - highly experienced, lookS comfortable on stage.
Mr Pringle - Gerald Taylor - another good performer whose programme notes try, but fail to convince us otherwise.
Topper - James Gaffney - ambition to become a professional, appears to have all the necessary tools for this mighty challenge.
Molly Haynes, who was a citizen of Cheapside was an admirable dance captain. I must presume that she was responsible for much of the excellent dance routines and they were well rehearsed and well executed.
In a show of this quality to highlight special scenes, songs etc is far from easy. However, for sheer atmospheric excellence, I will highlight the following: Marley's entrance and whole scene; the ghosts entrances and exits through the wall; the drinking of the milk of human kindness; Isabel leaving Young Scrooge behind; I'll begin again.
For special vocal quality: Father Christmas; Happiness; Love while you can; The Beautiful Day(Tiny Tim) I'll begin again.
For sheer energy and sparkle: December the Twenty -Fifth; I like life; Thank you very much; Both Finales.
Only a couple of fairly minor "grizzles"; I noted as follows: Christmas Present wore a prominent wedding ring; The rubber chicken was distinctly "joke shop" standard. All in all this was a superb show which thrilled the senses and made one proud of the wonderful talent in Surrey and especially in Epsom Playhouse this very night.
NODA District 19