Evil Ebenezer becomes Good Old Ebbie

A Christmas Carol
Adapted by Jeff Pitcher, based on the book by Charles Dickins
Performed by Michael Rawley as Scrooge et al
Directed by Susan Ferley
Grand Theatre, London
November 19 to December 24, 2008

Live! On Stage!
Review by Mary Alderson

London’s Grand Theatre is opening its doors to kids with this production of A Christmas Carol. While the whole family will enjoy this play, it’s definitely geared to keep children enthralled.
Most notable is the elaborate set. An old English streetscape draped with snow sits along each side of the stage, while the centre revolves. Each time the stage turns around, a new set appears, complete with all the details of the different homes – Scrooge’s run-down abode, Bob Cratchit’s humble home and nephew Fred’s elaborate mansion, as well as Scrooge’s office. Credit goes to the crew for getting the stage turned and all the props changed. As the run of the show continues, the changes should get faster, with fewer noisy bumps as furniture is moved.
Also notable are the special effects. Marley’s ghost appears out of nowhere, and even rises up as he is angered. Doors and windows open as the spirits come and go. The spirits’ voices are amplified with special effects to make them sound especially scary and haunting.
Costumes are elaborate and well done, with beautiful ornate gowns for the wealthy girls, and worn-out fabrics for the Cratchit family. Attention to detail is shown with complete changes when an actor becomes a different character. The extra effort is appreciated when complete changes with wigs are used to show that a different character is being portrayed.
Michael Rawley makes an interesting Scrooge. He plays the cantankerous and miserable Scrooge very well – even showing a nasty, sarcastic side. Kids will love the way he mimics others in a whiny voice. Rawley has great fun showing Scrooge’s terror as the apparitions appear, and after his epiphany, he becomes a silly Scrooge. Never has a transformed Scrooge had so much fun. Children were giggling at his antics throughout the theatre on opening night. The sight of Scrooge, jumping up and down on the four-poster bed, so that his head pops up above the canopy frame with each jump was hilarious. Giddy with laughter, Scrooge decides that he wants to be called Ebbie!
This production marks the return of three High School Project (HSP) Alumni. Ben Sanders, who was Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof (and in three other HSP) plays Peter Cratchit, the undertaker and other characters.