Walmsley Church AODS

Until Saturday

AS Christmas approaches, what better way to set off the festivities than bring treated to Charles Dickens classic Scrooge, courtesy of Walmsley Church AODS. Adapted by Leslie Bricusse, the packed auditorium were engrossed in the familiar idiosyncrasies of Ebenezer Scrooge and his miserly ways, of which he is renowned.

As the scene opens, Musical Director Tim Power has created a superb vocal opening number with deep harmonies that not only gave a real sense of Christmas, but also displayed the vocal ability of the ensemble as they effortlessly set the scene, complete with authentic costumes and accessories; we are transported back to 1843.

Steve Benson plays Scrooge to perfection, complete with hair, attire and a pallor that was equivocal to a seemingly malnourished miser, every nuance, mannerism and vocal delivery was clear and concise, resulting in a confident first night performance that led this production throughout. I noticed a few teary-eyed audience members on several occasions as Benson sang and delivered with genuine emotion and feeling.

A visit from Jacob Marley, played brilliantly by an unrecognisable Michael Taylor warns Scrooge of three pending visits from the past, present and future. His resistance to the first visit by his late sister (Christmas past) does little to change his ways. Julie Ogden’s interactions are well-balanced against Scrooges resistance. David Reeves offers a robust Christmas present, almost standing no nonsense as he points out the errors of Scrooge’s ways, and it is clear that the cogs are turning, as Scrooge seems a little pensive. Christmas yet to come arrives and gives Scrooge an insight of what his miserable ways could lead to and it is here where we see a resurgence as he gives presents to everyone, including his cash, resulting in a joyous ending to this timeless piece.

There were a number of standout performances throughout. David Wilson as Tom Jenkins who, with a comic touch presents his numbers well as he leads the well-drilled company though choreographer, Vicki Wilson’s fitting routines.

David Witt plays a suitable Bob Cratchit, complimented by Jane Bickerstaffe as his wife. Harry Cain as Tiny Tim displays his beautiful singing voice, which sent out a pleasing hush as we listened to every word. Ebenezers almost estranged nephew, Harry was safe in the hands of David Perks, perfectly matched with Michelle Foster as his bride.

It’s great to see younger members take to the stage so confidently and Daniel O’Brien, Holly Reevell, Nina Dickinson, Ava Greenhalgh, Zachary Baker and Mia Beardsall are delightful.

Director Nora Howcroft has ensured this piece is conveyed traditionally and with an ensemble who look right and sound top notch, Scrooge the Musical is a pleasure to watch and from the atmosphere that came across the footlights is a pleasure to be a part of.

Paul Cohen