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A Christmas Carol
20th December 2022 - 30th December 2022
On a snowy Christmas Eve, the mean-spirited Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his business partner Jacob Marley, who is weighed down by the accumulated chains of a lifetime of greed. Marley tells Scrooge he will be visited by three further spirits, each of whom will offer Scrooge an unsettling vision of himself, as well as an opportunity to change his ways … before it’s too late.
Dickens’s most famous short story sold out in five days following its publication in 1843. It has never been out of print since and has been the subject of many film, stage and television adaptations. As succinct as it is timeless, Dickens’s portrait of the meaning of Christmas remains one of enduring resonance.
A Seasonal treat for all the family, A Christmas Carol is adapted by Nic Lloyd, who also directs this inaugural production by the Malvern Theatres Stage Company.
Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes (no interval)
Went today and thought this was amazing!! Totally enjoyed and my 11 year old daughters who have been studying it at school enjoyed immensely too. Really powerful performance and the Carol singing was just beautiful. Thank you for a lovely afternoon continuing our Christmas break, we had a great time.
Beautifully presented. I love A Christmas Carol and this is by far one of the best modern interpretations i have seen! A superb performance by everyone, especially Mrs & Mr Bob Cratchitt, the Ghosts and Scrooge, who although younger gives an honest and incredibly moving performance. I implore anyone who loves Dickens to see this!
We came to see this shortly after Christmas, and a fantastic night was had by all! The misty setting and the incredible storytelling by each of the actors was utterly compelling. From the off Henry Pyne’s ‘Marley’, and his anger for being held in hell for seven years is counteracted brilliantly by Rhys Harris Clarke’s bombastic interpretation of the Spirit of Christmas Past. The agression of his ghost puts Scrooge to rights later in the piece an also allows a more mellow, haunting Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come. However in this opening sequence, they play off each other so well, as does every single character within the piece. Next, on comes our Scrooge, played with the perfect amount of spite and detestibility by Toby Burchell that makes his later redemption not only beliveable but earned as his taken through the emotional mill by all three Spirits, you can see the change within him by the end. The Crachitt family are another gem in themselves with every actor playing their part especially Emily Henry as the mother Mrs Cratchitt, making her way through life on very little. And Ben Mowbray as Bob Cratchitt who had our whole party close to, if not in, tears with his final speech mourning Tiny Tim in a future reality that would occur if Scrooge did not change his ways. Overall a beautifully put on production and a lovely night of theatre!
It was such a treat to go to the theatre after two years of lockdown. A very interesting slant on this popular play. We thoroughly enjoyed it and thank our daughter and friend for taking us.
Very well presented. Kept us mesmerised from beginning to end.
Just attended the afternoon performance. What a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The whole cast were outstanding, a special mention for Fan (Summer Reade) and Scrooge both standout performances.
I daresay that carving out a new interpretation of this classic tail is a challenge. Sadly I was left with the impression of a 6th Form production. Some actors shouting, rather than projecting, an overly-young depiction of Scrooge and too much in the way of Christmas Carols for me I'm afraid. The set was minimalist, which is not unusual these days but quite why some performers were required to stand on boxes at times is beyond me. I'm probably a complete Philistine, so I might be talking a complete load of rubbish! I should say that the front of house staff were wonderfully attentive and helpful.
Tim Crow - Behind the Arras
Dickens’ popular novella, A Christmas Carol, is a famous moral tale: Ebenezer Scrooge, the mean and cynical employer, who hates Christmas and dismisses all mention of it as ‘humbug’, spends a very uncomfortable night on Christmas Eve, confronted by the Spirits of Christmases Past, Present and Future.
He is made to face up to his own miserly character, his cynical dismissal of those less fortunate than himself. He comes to admit his faults; he is converted and becomes a generous-hearted member of the community.
This is the inaugural production of the Malvern Theatres Stage Company. Over recent years the Theatre has, through its Young Players productions, cultivated talented young actors in the locality, many of whom have gone on to become professional performers. This new Stage Company will provide the opportunity for some of these ‘graduates’ to perform professionally on the Malvern stage. The plans for future productions are an exciting new development.
This was an opening show of high quality. The use of projections on the back screen, the well-designed lighting and the sound effects combined to establish a powerfully dramatic atmosphere. The use of silence and movement is very effective in drawing the attention of the audience; combined with strong sound effects, this grips the audience and establishes suspense very effectively.
The cast is strongly led by Toby Burchell as Scrooge. He avoided overplaying the role both in its unpleasantness early on, and his warmth as a later convert.
Ben Mowbray played Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s employee, with an accent and a degree of respectful tension. Emily Henry as his wife was particularly good in the scene near the end when she begins to come to terms with the fact that the nasty Scrooge is apparently a changed man.
The ensemble cast around these central characters are very well directed and effective in their roles; they bring variety and colour to their scenes and provide songs – carols especially – to enhance the action, and indicate shifts in time and scene. The harmonies were appropriately haunting at times, delightful at others.
This initial production of the Stage Company promises much in the coming months.
Most enjoyable , set us in the mood for Christmas
Excellent performance. Enjoyable throughout
I watch at least three versions of Scrooge a year, this is my least favourite so far. Shouting for no reason, the removal of key scenes that added light, the addition of pointless extra elements (jacob marley 'gets another go' what? why? Scrooge is unmoved then one line later is?) The singing was beautiful, but too much of it, and only the actor who played Christmas present added a bit of fun and characterisation, Christmas present (normally ethereal and floaty, was portrayed all shouting and doom laden - didn't work) I was really glad when this ended to be honest.
Families Hereford & Worcester Magazine
Before the action starts the setting of the stage immediately puts the audience in the right frame of mind for the oncoming production. Black and white, dreary, bleak, eerily lit with candles, dry ice and scattered coffins. It made us think of the depressing life many people in Dickensian times faced if they had not had the luck of being blessed with riches and comfort. A sobering introduction before a word is uttered.
Although this is a well-known tale, Toby Burchell’s interpretation of the character Scrooge made difficult watching. It stingingly reminded us of the extent of misery and miserliness of the main character. He made Ebenezer seem beyond repent, after all he had all the answers, and his mind clearly set. The journey of Scrooge’s gradual development and realisation about his attitude to fellow man and Christmas was well conveyed.
Throughout the show the changes of backdrop/scenery added effective dimensions to the action, and it was wholly appropriate that mostly accapella singing of various Christmas carols featured throughout. The simple, beautiful vocal harmonies were often haunting, and sounded desolate and lost – fitting well with the mood of each scene. The story was conveyed well not only through the acting, but also with the effective music, lighting, sound, etc. All came together to create the understanding needed to empathise with what made Scrooge his original self. Would anyone be a warmer person if they had lived his experiences?
The small cast all played their parts in this familiar novella successfully. Mrs Cratchit (played by Emily Henry) was particularly strong. She was a force to be reckoned with, opposite to Scrooge in societal standing yes, every bit equal to Scrooge despite her lack of money and influence. The ensemble of Cratchit family was very touching (Ben Mowbray, Emily Henry, Howard Haines, Moa Myerson & Summer Reade). It was a grouping full of genuine warmth, humour and togetherness – a beautiful contrast to the cold stark reality of their precarious economic and social situation.
It is not surprising that this story has stood the tale of time. It carries a message that is universal, and that we need to hear each Christmas. Well done to the whole team for their successful production and for finding new elements of the story to bring to life.
Went along last night, lost 11/2 hours of my life I will not get back!! Dismal…
Really enjoyed this. Lovely balance between modern and traditional with some fantastic vocal performances too. A really lovely start to Christmas.
An excellent abridged adaptation, the staging, direction and performance held me from the first moment to the last.
I did not enjoy this production at all. The writer digressed from the true Christmas Carol story, adding incorrect story lines, lacking in atmosphere, and a lack of imagination with the stage set.
I have seen much better productions with just 2 actors, and much more atmosphere.
I was glad when it ended.
Atmospheric, beautifully acted and with magnificent singing interspersed with a faithful adaptation. A wonderful Christmas treat, enjoyed by us all.
Truly dreadful, disjointed and soulless, seemed like a rush to the end. Perhaps a brave adaptation that in my view fell flat on its face. Abridged to within an inch of its life and then packed with misplaced carols.
Courie Amado Juneau - Fairy Powered Productions
Malvern Theatres Stage Company brings us that perennial festive favourite A Christmas Carol in a superb adaptation by Nic Lloyd (also Director) who instantly thrusts us deep into unexpected territory – emblematic of a special evening ahead. To see something so new and fresh in such a familiar work of art was a revelation.
I won’t spoil the surprise regarding what this opening scene is but it is a breathtaking prologue involving Jacob Marley (Henry Pyne) and a Spirit (Rhys Harris-Clarke, who deliciously plays several roles). I enjoyed both actors when I saw them in this company’s previous production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Tonight gave them the chance to display their dramatic prowess with some lush dialogue bordering on the Shakespearean in it’s commanding breadth and spleandour!
Soon enough we were introduced to the other actors in the ensemble, which brought to mind ancient Greek Theatre with a chorus playing multiple roles around a narrator and a central character.
The entire cast was wonderful, thrilling us with magnificent performances. Toby Burchell treated us to a Scrooge that was suitably mean and clinical but thawed out nicely making this a thoroughly believable performance. Daniel Davis gave us a charming Fred (Scrooge’s nephew) as well as several other characters that were equally enjoyable.
The Cratchit family were well represented by Ben Mowbray (as Bob) and Emily Henry (as his wife) – including a fantastically acted extra added scene, giving us a very different slant on the work. Thought provoking! Howard Haines, playing the small but crucial role of Tiny Tim was, as expected, heartwarming.
Finally, multiple roles were taken up by Elizabeth Anne Jones whose live on stage guitar accompaniment I particularly appreciated and Summer Reade who particularly shone as Fan (Scrooge’s sister) in a touching portrayal.
Moa Myerson, also playing multiple roles, stood out in what was a stunning performance. Quite simply she is a major talent. Her acting was flawless, her characterization was warm and she had a range that was a joy to behold. And her singing voice is gorgeous too!
Speaking of which, I loved the use of Christmas Carols (sung live on stage by the cast) to heighten the stage action, for instance using “In The Bleak Midwinter” in the graveyard scene. “Silent Night”’s inclusion at a key scene touched my heart too. These musical interludes also served to move us between scenes (i.e. between Scrooge’s childhood and young adulthood) and between characters (i.e. one ghost to the next). Wonderful.
And that’s not even mentioning the lavish costumes, the inventive minimalist set, the lighting and the sound effects which all contributed to a highly accomplished production that does all involved enormous credit.
Another triumph from this young company of young performers showing us that both tonight’s cast and the company has a bright future. Rush to buy tickets for this production while you can, before they undoubtedly sell out. Top notch entertainment I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s enough to make you want to move to Malvern and attend every performance!
Some of these actors should seriously reconsider their career paths, the female half of the cast were wonderful, adding beautiful musicality, warmth and atmosphere. The men however, were purely disappointing, bringing absolutely no depth or age to their characterisation, delivering performances that were far from believable. It’s a shame, because the adaptation could have been brilliant.
Pete Philips - A View from the Stalls
As a kind of antidote to the jollity happening on the main stage, the Forum is given over to the first production from the Malvern Theatres Stage Company - A Christmas Carol. The cast consists of 10 young actors, many of whom will be familiar faces to the Malvern Theatre-going crowd, having been involved in Malvern Theatres Young Company or local companies such as Our Star.
Running at a relatively short 80 minutes (no interval), the show has been adapted and is directed by the theatre's Chief Executive Nic Lloyd who has, as expected, assembled a talented young cast for this Christmas treat. The main man of course is Ebenezer Scrooge, skilfully played by Toby Burchell, as he starts his journey from being a despised taskmaster to a position of relative redemption, courtesy of the visiting spirits (Rhys Harris-Clarke and Daniel Davis). The main recipients of this change of heart are the Cratchett family - Father Bob (Ben Mowbray), mother (Emily Henry) and the ailing son Tiny Tim (11 year-old Howard Haines). Marley (Scrooge's business partner who has been dead these last 7 years) makes a surprising appearance and is played by Henry Pine with Moa Myserson, Summer Reade and Elizabeth Anne Jones playing the other parts, as well as being central to the music. For yes - there is music! Of the seasonal variety, it is used throughout the show as there are (fittingly) carols being sung beautifully by the cast - including Silent Night and the very appropriate In The Bleak Midwinter.
The simple yet atmospheric set was perfect for this production - little is needed by the way of stage scenery or props as the story is more about feelings and emotions so there are a few boxes and candles and a changing projected background. Because whilst the surroundings remain relentlessly bleak, reflecting life as it was in the 1840's, the improvement in the characters' lives coming from the sudden beneficent nature of Scrooge is plain to see.
This first production from the new company certainly bodes well for the future and, complementing the work being done with the Young Company, is enabling young actors to develop their skills on the live stage in well-produced shows, an investment which Malvern Theatres should justifiably be proud of.
If you are expecting to see a traditional rendition of the Charles Dickens' classic, think again! This is so much better.
.Dickens bleak and harrowing tale of aman's redemption and transformation was beautifully brought to life by the Company. The scenes were minimalistic but fine outlining the dark and gloom of early Victorian winter. The whole cast were in excellent form and were diction perfect and the interspetion of carols(beautifully sung!!) Reminded us of the time this tale is set. I enjoyed every moment of this version and congratulations to Nic for his direction. Ha ing read the previous reviews I suggest perhaps Rachel and Jim should have gone to Panto next door instead!!!!
I must admit to being a bit biased as Daniel Davis is my grandson of whom I am justley proud!!