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Center Stage: Happy as an angel, merry as a school-boy in latest Christmas production

By Staff | Dec 10, 2014

As its 162nd production, the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre offered up a musical edition of the Charles Dickens’s classic holiday “A Christmas Carol.”

This was a second go around of this musical holiday classic for the Broadway Palm; and one in which the Palm pulled out all the stops, with dazzling special effects that have grown even more exciting over time; nevertheless, it still has wonderful original songs and lyrics, music by Alan Menken, lyrics/Lynn Ahrens, a book adaptation/Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens, with some new and nifty choreography by Kerry Lambert, direction/Galloway Stevens, fabulous sets/Tom Tutino, and eye-popping, colorful costumes by John P. White.

This retelling of “A Christmas Carol” has become a holiday favorite here in southwest Florida, even though this musical version of the Charles Dickens’s classic is a rather quirky, somewhat offbeat extravaganza, poking fun and making for a delightful 90 or more minutes of giggles and guffaws.

This impression of the classic is a sort of Charles Dickens meets Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” set at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. That having been said, the plotline still remains true to format where curmudgeonly miser Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future, hoping to change his destiny and save his soul.

This rendition of a tightwad in tinseltown holds up entertainment-wise, while following Scrooge through a series of strange, glitzy and magical journeys, until he ultimately discovers the true spirit of the holiday season in a rousing finale of “God Bless Us Everyone,” sending the delighted audience home with a grin on their faces and a spring in their step.

There are quite a few high points in this holiday offering; we’ll start with scenes of Scrooge’s miserable childhood, followed by his tender romance with Emily (Rachel Womble); playing Scrooge as a young man we have Christopher Lewis. This casting allows Lewis and Rachel Womble a chance to show off some fine singing voices in “A Place Called Home.”

Another winning moment happens during the Fezziwigs annual Christmas ball, followed by Tiny Tim’s blessing for all of us “God bless us everyone,” winding up with the final scene and Scrooge’s last minute reprieve after seeing his own tombstone.

Let me not omit the terrific “Christmas Together,” which lit up the stage with a joyful production number featuring the whole cast as citizens of London celebrating this most joyous of holidays in true musical theater, flash and dash.

Kudos also to another favorite of mine, Galloway Stevens, in his role of the Ghost of Christmas Past; tripping the light fantastic and warbling “Abundance and Charity,” in a perfect high camp, ode to joy, while decked out in velvet and fur with the entire holly bush as a wreath for his black curly locks. What can I say? Fa la la la “la te da”!

Robert Summers as Scrooge had all the elements that define Scrooge, a miserly, grumpy old man that learns how to kick up his heels and turn into a glad-to-be-alive and redeemed senior citizen.

Others in the cast that earned the “4 Christmas Cookie Award” are Cristopher Russell (Bob Cratchit) and Meghan Orlowski (Mrs. C).

Next we meet the Fezziwigs (Frank Hughes Jr. as Mr. and Britt Steele as Mrs.); they became a total package of “let’s trip the light fantastic dreamteam and spread holiday cheer.” Last but not least, let me introduce our own Tiny Tim, playing his dream role; the one, the only Nicolas Salerno.

Once again it is always the versatile and hardworking cast of singers, dancers and actors that deserves a big round of applause for giving it their all and making “A Christmas Carol” one heck of a swell way to get into the spirit of the holidays. Seeing this latest rendition of Broadway Palm’s “A Christmas Carol” is one neat way for friends and family to share a meal as they watch and awaken the holiday spirit by celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, just by being together.

So that being said, get your team together for a night of holiday cheer by phoning the box office at 278-4422. Make your reservation, sit back and enjoy “A Christmas Carol.”

When you phone, remind ’em Marsha sent you…and a Ho Ho Ho Holiday to you and yours.