We are all familiar with the haunting events of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with its intense warnings against selfish greed and loss of humanity. Have you ever wondered what became of Scrooge after he learned those lessons? “Scrooge in Love!” joins the reformed businessman who has become a beloved member of the community, and appears to have the perfect life —or does he?
Lucky Penny’s productions of the new holiday musical “Scrooge in Love” takes on that question.
A year after his life-changing Christmas Eve, the melodramatic specter of Jacob Marley (Brian Watson) returns to a bewildered Scrooge, who cannot fathom what went wrong; his family and friends assure him of being a changed man who is kind and generous.
Three charismatic Christmas ghosts reappear to guide Scrooge through a gentler experience, revealing that despite an outward show, he is desperately lonely and terrified of falling in love. Through their eccentric methods, Scrooge realizes that there is still a piece of his heart to unchain, for a satisfying final chapter of his story.
Mincing with bubbly enthusiasm, the Ghost of Christmas Past (Andrea Dennison-Laufer) is bedecked with shimmering pink wings and a tiara. Her quirky vocal style walks a tightrope between sweetly endearing and rather shrill, but her heart is in the right place, and she encourages Scrooge that “no love is ever wasted.” The decadent Ghost of Christmas Present (Scottie Woodard) has a booming laugh and fondness for puns, tossing clouds of golden glitter in his path. “Scrooge in Love!” offers a twist on the Ghost of Christmas Future’s (F James Raasch) graveyard menace that is morbidly hilarious.
Because Scrooge (Brian Herndon) has been through the mystical journey before, his outlook of begrudging acceptance and sarcastic commentary is amusing, and keeps the musical high-spirited, with plenty of eye-rolling at the ghosts’ jaunty antics. His duet with a younger Scrooge, mulling over lost opportunities, is beautifully melancholy, supported by the trio of musicians led by Craig Burdette.
The high-caliber ensemble, such as Heather Buck (Mrs. Cratchit) and Tim Setzer (Mr. Fezziwig/Fred) ensures accomplished musicality and captivating drama. Fiery, independent Belle (Jenny Veilleux) matches wits with Scrooge in the passionate song “How Did I Survive?” showing him that money cannot buy true love. Using the tiered set design with staircases and a backdrop of dusky London, Dyan McBride’s direction is vibrant and carefully considers the three-sided stage, ensuring that each segment of the audience has an intriguing view of the action.
Rebecca Valentino’s lush costume designs of jewel-colored bonnets, 1840s petticoats, and pale Regency gowns are a historical feast of swirling fabric. The English accents are somewhat strained, but not distracting, adding to the ambiance. Staci Arriaga’s exciting choreography is inspired by English Country Dance patterns, with dynamic twirling that makes Lucky Penny’s small stage come alive with movement.
“Scrooge in Love!” asks the fundamental question — “Are you happy?” — with sincere affection, and takes the audience on a whirlwind adventure of holiday cheer.