The snow is gently falling and carolers are merrily singing in Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Baltimore’s delightful musical production of A Christmas Carol. Based on the Christmas classic by Charles Dickens, this fast paced musical originally ran for more than a decade at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, where it became a must see holiday attraction for many Broadway fans. Music by Disney favorite Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime) brings Dickens’ well-known story of stingy, bad-tempered Ebenezer Scrooge and his emotional transformation on Christmas Day to life in this enjoyable family-friendly show.
The show opens on Christmas Eve with Scrooge, in a stand-out performance by David Bosley-Reynolds, bah humbugging at the joyful townspeople of London, England who are excited for the holiday to begin. As the brightly costumed ensemble cast sings merrily, he rudely brushes aside passersby who wish him a happy Christmas and refuses to contribute to charities for the poor saying angrily, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” Bosley-Reynolds is fabulous as the cantankerous Scrooge. His scowls and sneers combined with a strong, deep voice really carry the show. Dan Van Why has a solid voice and does a nice job of conveying the earnestness necessary for Cratchit’s humble character. I particularly enjoyed the sweet duet, “You Mean More to Me,” between Cratchit and his beloved son, Tiny Tim (Jace Franco).
The show moves like a whirlwind from song to song, and director Daniel L. McDonald does a commendable job of using the entire stage to spread out the various action sequences. The well-placed use of strobe lights and fog add much needed ambiance to the many spooky scenes including when Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Marley (Chad W. Fornwalt). Singing “Link by Link,” Marley and a brood of creepy ghosts frighten Scrooge as they try to get him to change his harsh ways. It’s a dark song but it delivers as one of my favorite ensemble numbers with Laurie Newton’s fun choreography and Fornwalt’s deep, eerie voice.
Ray Hatch (Ghost of Christmas Past) and Kelli Blackwell (Ghost of Christmas Present) provide highly enjoyable performances as two of the ghosts that visit Scrooge. Blackwell is particularly memorable in her long green robe and crown of sparkly holly. Singing “Abundance and Charity,” she delights the audience with her infectious singing and high energy. A special mention must also go to Debra Buonaccorsi (Ghost of Christmas Past/ Blind Old Hag), whose beautiful dance solo is the highlight of the ominous “Dancing on Your Grave.” Her costume with its odd head covering that repeatedly flopped over her face is unfortunate but the dancing itself is lovely.
A Christmas Carol is also a visual delight with Lawrence B. Munsey and Samn Huffer’s charming period costumes. Their variety is most notable during the energetic ensemble number, “Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball,” a clear audience favorite. This holiday season Toby’s delivers a fun, family-friendly musical that is sure to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.
A Christmas Carol
Based on a story by Charles Dickens
Book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens
Music by Alan Menken . Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Directed by Daniel L. Mnald
Choreography by Laurie Newton
Produced by Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Baltimore County
Reviewed by Sabrina Daly
A Christmas Carol runs thru January 2, 2011 at Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Baltimore, 5625 Odonnell Street, Baltimore, MD.