|David Bosley-Reynolds as Scrooge (Jeri Tidwell Photography)|
The holidays couldn’t arrive soon
enough for many folks, and the spirit of Christmas in more ways than one is
alive and well at Toby’s, the Dinner Theatre of Columbia. Charles Dickens’ beloved classic 1843
novella, A Christmas Carol, with its
familiar characters featuring Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Jacob
Marley and various ghosts of Christmases—past, present and future—is presented
with high energy in Toby’s in-the-round venue for what is an entertaining
musical production. #hocoarts
A Christmas Carol, The Musical
with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn
Ahrens was a fixture each holiday season at the Paramount Theatre in New York’s
Madison Square Garden from 1994 to 2003.
Menken is an eight-time Oscar-winning composer of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. #hocoarts
David James (who also plays
Crachit) directs A Christmas Carol, The Musical at
Toby’s with a skillful touch and a keen attention to detail. The two-time Helen Hayes winner helms a lively,
well-paced production, managing a large cast blending Toby’s veterans with new performers
through the musical numbers, special effects, tons of props and a plethora of
Many of the characters’ good
attributes as well as shortcomings in A
Christmas Carol related in some manner to Dickens’ own life’s experiences
that included struggling to make ends meet and witnessing his father hauled off
to debtor’s prison while he was a young lad in London. The imaginative story centers on the miserly
Ebenezer Scrooge (played strongly by David Bosley-Reynolds) and his Christmas
Eve to Christmas Day evolution from when he began as a mean, arrogant and
friendless soul to one that ended up as a caring, generous human being
embodying the true meaning of the Christmas holiday spirit.
Speaking of spirit or in this
case spirits, the extraordinary transformation in Scrooge’s personality was
accomplished through the supernatural nocturnal visits from three ghosts: one
representing Christmas Past (Heather Beck), one from Christmas Present (Darren
McDonnell) and one from Christmas Future (Mackenzie Newbury). Through song and dialogue, these ghosts call
out Scrooge’s failures, the effects of his actions, and the consequences that
could occur in the future.
Several of the songs stand out
and are performed well under the musical direction by Pamela Witt and the
six-piece orchestra. Among them: “A
Place Called Home,” “You Mean More to Me” (a tender ballad performed sweetly by
Mr. James as Cratchit and Lucas Bromberg as Tiny Tim), “Link By Link” (a
superbly executed production number), “The Lights of Long Ago,” Fezziwig’s
Annual Christmas Ball” (a stirring production number), “Abundance and Charity”
(another excellent production number), “Christmas Together,” and the
The lyrics work well with the
dialogue and actions on stage to propel the story. For those wonderful production numbers,
credit Laurie Newton for the impeccable, high-energy choreography.
|Scrooge on Christmas Day (Jeri Tidwell Photography)|
Splendid vocals added to the
joy. As Marley, Andrew Horn’s tenor
voice excels in “Link By Link.” MaryKate
Brouillet who plays Emily, Scrooge’s one-time love, displays a lovely soprano
in the reprise of “A Place Called Home.” Her duet partner AJ Whittenberger
playing the young Scrooge, also delivers well in that song and both display
warm onstage chemistry.
Mr. Bosley-Reynolds as Scrooge uses
his commanding voice well, particularly in “Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today” late
in the second act.
The entire talented company makes
this production a winner. It’s too large
a cast to name everybody, but other notable performers include Jeffrey Shankle,
Darren McDonnell, Tina DeSimone, Justin Calhoun and Chris Rudy. #hocoarts
David A. Hopkins’ imaginative
set design is exceptional. Many clever props and furnishings are used onstage
and create the needed ambiance for 19th century London. Street oil lamps, vendor carts, wagons, bank
teller windows, an oversized turkey, and a dancing skeleton add to the
A clock on a façade provides a
terrific effect of the ghosts' faces projected on it when the ghost of Marley
warns Scrooge of the three visitors he should expect overnight.
And oh, that fog! The fog machines are in full throttle, and it
appears that the action is taking place in the marshes of Dickens’ Great Expectations!
Coleen M. Foley handles the
lighting expertly, and with the light cast on that fog it presents an eeriness
key to the atmospherics. Ms. Foley also
conveys the right effects for the appearances of the ghosts.
As good as this show is I must heap
effusive praise on the extraordinary costuming designed by Lawrence B.
Munsey. He meticulously put together a
wide variety of 19th century Victorian costumes for the large cast
with many attired for multiple roles.
Toby’s stunning, well-staged
production of A Christmas Carol, The Musical is enjoyable
theatre, and it sends the right message as to how the “spirit’ of Christmas and
the holiday season in general ought to be.
You should catch this classic to liven up the season and enjoy Toby’s
scrumptious buffet as well.
Running Time: Two hours with an
A Christmas Carol, The Musical
plays through January 8 at Toby’s, the Dinner Theatre of Columbia, 5900
Symphony Woods Road, Columbia, MD 21044.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 410-7390-8311, 1-800-88-TOBYS (8-6297) or online .