42ND STREET MOON BRINGS BACK A BETTER ‘SCROOGE IN LOVE” EBENEZER WILL WIN YOUR HEART, ADD THIS TO YOUR MUST SEE HOLIDAY MUSICAL.
Mr. Scrooge is visiting many Bay Area stages this winter, in fact, in some cities he is on three stages in less than three city blocks away, and I find myself avoiding his three ghosts as much as I can. But imagine seeing a different version of the story of Christmas past, and death chasing the old man from venue to venue. 42nd Street Moon restages their very clever new musical SCROOGE IN LOVE!. We join Ebenezer one year later as he wakes up the morning of Christmas and begins the journey to find true love .A year has passed and the old grump, played by the brilliant TBA winner Jason Graae, has settled his ways with Tiny Tim and his family. The following Christmas morning we find Ebenezer Scrooge almost content with his life and now wants to complete it with finding love.
Thanks to the popularity of last year’s inaugural production, the 2016 version of SCROOGE IN LOVE! Is filled out and improved – featuring a larger cast, new tunes, and a larger venue with performances now at Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco. SCROOGE runs til December 24, at the classic Union Square location. The perfect part of the city to celebrate the holiday in beautiful downtown SF ringing out the season.
This is a new work written by Larry Grossman, the composer of Snoopy! and Minnie's Boys. He has created an enjoyable score with likable lyrics by Kellen Blair and a warm book by Duane Poole. The songs are sweet, memorable tunes. Poole captures the mood of the Dicken’s story, bringing back all the iconic characters and pesky spirits and ghosts. The marvelous Jason Graae brilliantly stars as old man Scrooge, but in this version you will actually like the old grump. Blair added some catchy new songs like “Happier,” “The Hours In Between,” “A Kitchen Built for Twenty,” and “Just One Year.”
Director Dyan McBride says “What you get - is Scrooge 2.0. We’ve expanded the cast, moved to the (Marines Memorial stage), changed the color palette, modified the design, all the while hopefully keeping what made it so lovely the first time around - “Scrooge in Love!” as ‘an optimistic, charmingly funny’ -It celebrates the ideas of family, love and time with its glorious score and clever book/lyrics. The piece asks us to think about time in all its manifestations. How do you reconcile the past with the present? The ideas of family, weddings, death and seasons, and you have a heady concept that binds this beautiful new show together.” McBride brings back the award winning cast and adds a few more colorful back ground players. The magic works and the show is foolproof, this is a zestful holiday treat.
Melissa Reinertson as Belle, Anjali Blacker as Nora, Jason Graae as Ebenezer Scrooge Photo By Krantz
The opening song “Carol” by the stunning ensemble sets the story and mood, and shows off the lavish wonderful setting, a stair case under a huge clock that will take us back in time. The main featured cast is grand in “In just one Year” the Cratchits and Scrooge's dance work well Staci Arriaga’s traditional choreography. The Cratchit family featuring Tyler Groshong, Brittany, Michael Grasso, Michael Rhone, and Maria Mikheyenko are superb in their number “The Search”. Of course the Ghost of Jacob Marley is back to visit, along with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, as they help the old man discover love.
Jason Graae is magnificent as Ebenezer Scrooge, he gives the role a friendly take and Graae brings a new unseen Scrooge to the stage. His exceptional vocal cords are ideal as he sings "The Things You Should Have Done" and "Sad I'm Dead." His second act show stopper, "A Kitchen Built for Twenty," is awesome. Clearly Graae was worthy of his 2016 TBA honor for best actor in a musical. This more pleasant Scrooge is still awkward searching for true love and it does not run smoothly. But he learns from his visit with the Ghost of Christmas Future that Belle still loves him, and we now have this whole new story.
The dapper and talented Kalon Thibodeaux returns as Young Scrooge. He has the perfect tenor voice for "You're Safe with Me." Elise Youssef is gleeful and sexy as the Ghost of Christmas Past and her stylish vocal cords blast the story with energy and humor. Ebenezer asks her “The ghost of Christmas Past, I presume?” and her satirical voice shatters glass. Tigi Coyle’s sound design is on cue and the many lighting thunder moments keep the show rich in delightful sound effects.
TBA winner and local favorite Ryan Drummond gives an outstanding performance as the Ghost of Jacob Marley and wonderfully booms "The Hours in Between" with his capable voice and chain costume by Rebecca Valentino. The handsome powerhouse Will Springhorn Jr. commands the stage as the classic Ghost of Christmas Present, his homourous ego is charismatic. Melissa Reinertson is vibrant as Belle and with her beautiful soprano voice she sings "Safe with Me." She is compelling and elegant in the role.
The likeable Michael Rhone is cast as the icon dad, Bob Cratchit, while Maria Mikheyenko is the perfect London mom as Mrs. Cratchit. Tyler Groshong and Brittany Monrow nicely play Peter and Martha Cratchit while young Michael Grasso gives an adorable performance as Tiny Tim who a year later no longer needs the crutch thanks to Scrooge's kindness. Dressed as the cold death in a black cape from head to toe, Lucas Coleman moves silently as the Ghost of Christmas Future. The accomplished supporting cast includes Ted Zoldan and Heather Orth as the enthusiastic Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig. Zoldan and Orth who take turns center stage with their sweet duets, and young Anjali Blacker is sparkling as Nora.
The craft team for this production is terrific - I was most impressed by Rebecca Valentino's perfect period costumes, the color and authenticity is a treat to see with a shout to her design team Tracie Davis, Suzy Jane Edwards, and Richard Bryan. A highlight is the Ghost of Jacob Marley with chains and the camp glam of his wig. The glistening all white costume for the Ghost of Christmas Past is stunning as well as the ensembles look and style.
Kuo-Hao Lo’s set is clever and effective with moving steps that create the elegant home of the Cratchits, and with a simple spin to the foggy London streets. Lo’s centerpiece is a huge clock in the background that takes us back in time and his staircase set allows Scrooge and his ghosts to overlook the scene below. Wonderfully mood lit by Kevin Landesman’s colorful lighting that takes us to Scrooge's bedroom and beyond. The props by Devon LaBelle include just the right walking canes, hats, and gadgets for the three ghosts to engage with including a bubble machine for Christmas Past.
Choreographer Arriaga’s dance for the Fezziwigs' party was classic old London, but this score also includes some modern beats that Arriaga arranges well. Director Dyan McBride keeps the action moving fast and works some of the action out into the Marines Memorial house. McBride also adds the new larger cast most effective to the larger space at this downtown venue. I would say this is a great window for this production to move to NY at a future date. McBride and company have created a Broadway ready musical.
Dave Dobrusky’s music direction is delux and his company is on pitch with a four piece orchestra including local favorite Ken Brill on synthesize, Andres Vera and Adam Young on cellos, all added that holiday cheer to his near perfect holiday musical. The ensemble voices blend in smoothly and include: Andrea Dennison-Laufer, Brittany Monroe, Mike Rhone, Nathan Richardson, Tyler Groshong, Alex Blacker, Nic Roy Garcia, Lucinda Lauglin, Simone Lee, and Panita Serizawa. The warm ending features the entire cast in “The Hours in Between” that closes the two hour and 15 min show. The sold out opening week audience were pleased and cheers were easy to hear. SCROOGE IN LOVE! has all the heart and charm of becoming a classic holiday treat for many seasons to come. I would guess this team will head to bigger venues and the great white way before long. This is a MUST SEE, and is my holiday pick for some brilliant original Bay Area theatre.
42nd Street Moon Presents
SCROOGE IN LOVE!:
Book by Duane Poole, Music by Larry Grossman.
Lyrics by Kellen Blair
Marines Memorial Theater
609 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Through December 24th
Two hours 15 min with an intermission.
(415) 255-8207 or www.42ndStMoon.org
Pictures by Ben Krantz of Ben Krantz Studios
CAST: Jason Graae as Scrooge; Melissa Reinerston as Belle; Elise Youssef as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Will Springhorn as the Ghost of Christmas Present, David Naughton as the Ghost of Christmas Future and Dick Wilkins; Ryan Drummond as Jacob Marley. The ensemble also features Anjali Blacker as Nora/Maggie, Michael Grasso as Tiny Tim, Brittney Monroe as Martha, Heather Orth as Juliana/Mrs. Fezzigwig, David Ryan as Peter/Turkey Boy, Kalon Thibodeaux as Young Scrooge, Andrew Willis-Woodward as Bob Cratchit, Skye Violet Wilson as Mrs. Cratchit, and Tod Zoldan as Fred/Mr. Fezziwig.
ARTISTIC STAFF: Dyan McBride, Director; Hector Zavala , Set Designer; will be Staci Arriaga, Choreographer; Dave Dobrusky, Musical director; Danny Maher, Lighting Designer; Noah Kramer, Props designer; Rebecca Valentino, Costume designer..
NEXT UP AT 42ND STREET MOON - IS BOB MERRILL AND GEORGE ABBOTT'S 'NEW GIRL IN TOWN' - OPENS MARCH 29TH
42nd Street Moon celebrates and preserves the art and spirit of the American Musical Theatre. We contribute to its evolution and continuing vitality by presenting intimately produced performances of classic and rarely performed musical works. Through our productions, educational programs, and community outreach, we are committed to increasing the awareness and appreciation of the rich heritage and cultural perspective of the musical theatre and its vast influence on the world stage.