I have one complaint about A Broadway Christmas Carol at MetroStage. What took me so long to discover this hilariously festive show?
Certainly it was no fault of the folks at MetroStage. Beginning at Round House Theatre in the late 1990s, A Broadway Christmas Carol became an annual holiday offering that has since been joyfully adopted by MetroStage in Alexandria. Back for its sixth year, the show is ready once again to send miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a tuneful journey to his Christmas Eve redemption.
Scrooge. Please tell me he needs no introduction. Likewise, his nephew Fred, Bob Cratchit and his family, and the spirits who usher Scrooge through his self-examination. Dickens’ tale is still intact but with a musical twist that is a heavenly blend of Broadway tunes mined from more than 30 shows. Creator Kathy Feininger, with a nod to Forbidden Broadway, has melded A Christmas Carol with cleverly revised lyrics that carry the story forward. It’s super fun to listen for the original songs from the Golden Age of Broadway to more recent shows.
Four performers – three singer-actors and the pianist – take on all the roles with lightning fast changes that are enhanced by Janine Sunday’s witty period costume designs.
A rousing opening tune combines “A Comedy Tonight” (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) with “Tonight,” setting the rollicking, tongue-in-cheek mood of the show. The merry company fills the intimate theatre with powerful vocals that often highlight the crystal clear soprano of the lone woman on stage, Tracey Stephens. Peter Boyer and Michael Sharp are also gifted singers and all three have impeccable comic timing and fill the stage with an irrepressible energy.
As Scrooge, Boyer has a field day in the role of the selfish old skinflint. Borrowing “We’re in the Money” (42nd Street), Boyer introduces himself with “I’m in the Money,” gleefully warbling “I’ll foreclose if you’re one second past due!” Boyer’s refreshing take on Scrooge is aided by the wicked gleam in his eye and the charming way he has with the audience.
Boyer’s Scrooge is buttressed by the quick-silver comedic talents of Sharp and Stephens, taking on, as the program points out, the “men and women who aren’t Scrooge.” A sunny nephew Fred, a strapping Tiny Tim, a randy Mrs. Fezziwig, and a Carmen Miranda/Sofia Vergara –inspired Marley (pronounced “Yakob Marley”) are just a few of their panoply of amusing characters. All three get to share in the fun. And why shouldn’t the accompanist get in the act as well? Howard Breitbart not only plays piano magnificently, moving across all the styles and genres of musicals with style, he makes a memorable cameo appearance in a pivotal role that is too good to spoil here, for first timers to the show.
A BROADWAY CHRISTMAS CAROL
November 25 – December 27, 2015
1201 North Royal Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
1 hour, 35 minutes with 1 intermission
Wednesdays thru Sundays
Everything takes place in a Victorian-esque cabaret setting, designed by Alison Campbell, that allows the rapid pace of the show to zip along. Speaking of zip, cast member Michael Sharp pulls triple duty for this Broadway Christmas Carol, also providing the choreography and stage direction. This is his fifth season with the production and his masterful touch is evident.
A Broadway Christmas Carol is simplicity itself: a joyous celebration of Dickens’ popular creation merged with memorable Broadway tunes. I left the show with uplifted spirits and a song in my heart. Not a bad way to kick off the Christmas season.
A Broadway Christmas Carol by Kathy Feininger . Director and Choreographer: Michael Sharp . Music director: Howard Breitbart . Set design: Allison Campbell . Lighting design: Alexander Keen . Costume design: Janine Sunday . Technical Director: William Woodard . Stage Manager: David Elias . Produced by MetroStage . Reviewed by Jeff Walker .