Review: Scrooge – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

No Christmas is complete without a retelling of the Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ and Scrooge is a festive musical treat for all the family. Tommy Steele does a remarkable job as Ebenezer Scrooge. While it’s a rude to comment on a performer’s age, it has to be noted that being on stage for 90% of a show is not easy for anyone and Steele carries it off with aplomb.

Steele leads the cast and audience through the familiar tale with the help of a superb supporting cast. The set fills the stage with Dickensian London and the wonderful costumes bring this period piece to life. The hard-working, under-appreciated Bob Cratchit (Edward Handoll) is played wonderfully by Handoll who brings a real sense of hardship and happiness in the face of dark adversity to every scene. In the current economic climate and in the run up to Christmas, Cratchit’s difficult choices are more relevant than ever. With pay freezes, high fuel bills and the cost of Christmas front of mind for many of the audience, it’s not difficult to identify with Cratchit as his daughter points out the “dolly in the corner” of the window in the toy shop and Handoll makes it evident how much Cratchit would love to be able to grant his daughter this wish. Handoll is particularly engaging during the scenes with Tiny Tim, none more so than during the bleak scenes painted by the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Sarah Earnshaw is delicate and ethereal as the Ghost of Christmas Past but I wasn’t overly keen on the microphone tricks used at some points on all the ghosts, I think as a theatregoing public we’ve all moved on a bit from needing haunting voice effects to identify which characters are ghosts. Rhidian Marc (Harry / Young Ebenezer) radiates the joy of a man who is truly happy with his life which jars wonderfully with the snarling Scrooge that we see wrestling with his past. The contrast is such that the audience is led to wonder what really happened to Scrooge in his lifetime to end up so miserly and angry at the world. The Ghost of Christmas Present could be renamed “My Big Fat Gypsy Ghost” with his fabulous over the top light-up LED coat.

The key to any Christmas show is magic and Paul Kieve’s wonderful illusions ensure a magical experience for young and old alike. I don’t want to give away any of the tricks but the appearance of Jacob Marley, the disappearance of the Ghost of Christmas Past and the wonderful arrival of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come are definite notable mentions.

It’s difficult not to compare any musical adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ to the spectacular muppets’ version but for a live musical treat without the muppets this Christmas, Scrooge the musical is definitely one for all the family to enjoy together.


Glasgow Theatre Royal Sat 3rd December 2011
Liverpool Empire Mon 5th – Sat 10th December 2011
New Theatre Oxford Mon 9th – Sat 14th January 2012