Press Report


Tiverton Gazette


January 8th 2002

Scrooge - The Musical
"Dancing all the way home after a night of 'perfect entertainment

Like Scrooge himself, I was filled with good old fashioned Christmas spirit as I watched Irene Holland's Willow Tree Theatre Company's production of the eponymous musical based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol at Tiverton's New Hall.

It is perfect entertainment for the time of year with its message of good will to all men.  The score by Leslie Bricusse, bursting with familiar tunes, was ably played by an impressive nine-piece orchestra, briskly conducted by Lee Baines.  The use of radio mikes for members of the cast was well managed and a welcome technical addition.

Richard Barfoot tackled the demanding role of Scrooge with fortitude.  He was a trifle tentative on opening night, but his performance soon blossomed and Scrooge's tormented character was successfully unveiled.

He was a relatively mild Scrooge, even at his most cantankerous.  Nevertheless, his transformation to a genial benefactor was well placed and convincing.  He had genuine fun, astounding fellow citizens and his employee with his new found generosity.  The Ghost of Jacob Marley and three spirits of Christmas - past, present and future - whose task it was to reform him, were portrayed in very different and suitably spooky and jovial ways by Peter Murch, Nina Taylor, Paul Williams and Ross Whitehead.  Paul Williams looked extraordinarily like a Victorian Christmas card which had come to life.

An enthusiastic cast of all ages moved seamlessly on and off stage using every available corner of the hall in view.  Dancing and singing with wonderful energy, the supporting performers contributed greatly to the show's success.

I particularly enjoyed Bob Cratchit and his adorable family.  When Tiny Tim, played by Joel Barfoot, was lifted onto the Cratchit kitchen table to sing The Beautiful Day, we enjoyed a genuinely touching moment.

The set itself, seemed too big for the New Hall stage - too cumbersome for the space as a whole.  When, undaunted by the modest size and meagre facilities of Tiverton's theatre, Scrooge and the Spirits flew in and out of scenes, the audience gasped with delight.  An ambitious idea which worked.   Jacob Marley sitting in an invisible armchair was a good visual joke.

Whatever technical difficulties were encountered on opening night (I understand there had been no dress rehearsal which makes the achievement all the greater) this production sent me dancing all the way home and is another success for Irene Holland, Jon Sowden (Director) and their excellent team.

Submitted by Amanda Knott