You’ll find no shortage of productions of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol in London this year, but you may find yourself disappointed if you miss out on The London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s concert version which plays at The Lyceum Theatre for just two dates this December, following successful presentations over the last couple of years.
This is the version of the classic tale set to music, from musical theatre powerhouses Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens and Mike Ockrent, providing a soaring yet touching score to the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, and the three ghosts (past, present and future) who teach the miserly grouch the true meaning of Christmas. So, all of the characters that you have grown to know and love are there, but with this added score so beautifully played by the LMTO, and conducted by Freddie Tapner.
As the concert interpretation you won’t be seeing much in the way of sets; the ensemble stand behind the orchestra, while the main players take to the front of the stage. The production does make fantastic use of lighting, thanks to Mike Robertson, and set against the backdrop of the imposing Lyceum Theatre it is quite the spectacle.
Griff Rhys Jones joins this year’s line-up, doing an admirable job as the penny-pinching Scrooge employing a great deal more characterisation than you may find in other concert style deliveries. He is joined by a host of talented West End stars who manage to create a magical experience for the audience. Miriam-Teak Lee is divine as the Ghost of Christmas past, using her flowing ball-gown to full effect, while Cedric Neal brings a party atmosphere to proceedings as the ghost of Christmas Present.
Lucie Jones doesn’t get any big number songs as the Ghost of Christmas Future, but we are blessed to hear her perform in the other roles that she picks up. Jon Tarcy plays both young Scrooge and Fred Anderson beautifully, while David Hunter gives a simply outstanding performance as Bob Cratchit. It is however, the children in the cast who steal the show, Mikey Impiazzi is particularly endearing, while Tobias Ungleson as Tiny Tim melts even the hardest of hearts.
There was an occasional sound problem, as microphones sometimes kicked in a line too late, but it went generally unnoticed by the audience. To complain of such small technical issues in a production of this kind would simply be Bah Humbug! The truth is this version of A Christmas Carol is a fantastically uplifting experience; a gorgeous score played to perfection by LMTO and with a cast of unrivalled talent, making this a now unmissable London Christmas tradition.