BWW Review: TIM & SCROOGE at Westchester Broadway Theatre
TIM AND SCROOGE
By Neil Berg & Nick Meglin
Westchester Broadway Theatre
It's twelve years later, Tim is not so "tiny" and Scrooge is not so curmudgeonly - so all's well in the Cratchit world, right? Ah, if only it was that easy!
This holiday season, Westchester Broadway Theatre has a winner on its hands. "Tim and Scrooge" is a delightfully whimsical sequel to Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with boundless melodies penned by composer Neil Berg (Off-Broadway's "The Prince and the Pauper" and the new musical "The Twelve") and witty, clever, appropriately "Victorian-period" lyrics by lyricist-librettist Nick Meglin (longtime editor of Mad Magazine).
The two title roles could not have been any better cast. George Lee Andrews is a Broadway legend (he holds the Guinness World Record for the most performances in a Broadway show, having appeared in the Phantom of the Opera on 9,382 occasions over 23 years) and every moment he is on stage is a moment to be treasured. He brings an abundance of charm to Scrooge's every action, as he consistently bends "the rules" (as laid out by his former partner Jacob Marley, Kevin Ligon) to help Tim along on his journey.
Unfortunately, Tim has plans of his own. He is attending University and plans to follow his passion to become a teacher. Adding to his academic fervor is his paramour, Allison (Marissa McGowan who brought a bright, voluptuous soprano voice to the role), who seems to view teaching as the only possible and fruitful vocation for Tim. Their plans for the future are laid out beautifully in a heartfelt duet, "Pages Are Turning."
Justin Scott Brown (who originated the role of Marius in the new 25th Anniversary US production of Les Miserables) gives Tim a strong voice as well as a fresh-faced innocence, and pollyanna ineptness. Tim has no interest in carrying on the family business, and is caught in the dilemma of following in his father's footsteps and pleasing his family or following his passion for teaching and his love for Allison. (One quibble: It's never made entirely clear why Allison can't love an accountant just as much as a teacher. Is an accountant that ignoble of a profession?)
Tim's choice, of course, is the worst one possible, as he witlessly signs away his inheritance to a pair of "scrooge-like" businessmen, Hastings and Hall, played with mawkish seriousness by Daniel Marcus and Fred Inkley.
Bob Cratchit, (John Hillner) horrified to learn of Tim's folly, is tormented by fears of returning to the poverty of yesteryear and cannot contain is disappointment. Thus, Tim is horribly conflicted by his choices, and desperately seeks a solution to the mess he has brought upon himself and his family. Act One comes to a conclusion with the show's finest number "Separate Paths," a gorgeous, wistful duet in which Tim and Allison sorrowfully and reluctantly part ways.
But wait! Enter Uncle Eb! The ghost of Scrooge must once again break the rule and guide Tim in the right direction.
"Tim and Scrooge" is blessed with exponential luxury casting in the supporting roles. Broadway and Off-Broadway veterans, Rita Harvey (Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof) is delightfully ditsy as Martha, the uber-baker sister; Anna McNeeley (Gypsy, Hunchback of Notre Dame) as Anne Cratchit, Tim's overbearing Mum; Jed Resnick (Avenue Q) as Gerald Cratchit, Spencer Plachy (Edwin Drood, Romeo and Juliet) as Peter Cratchit, Chandler Reeves (Annie) as Vanessa. The bigger numbers benefit greatly from the sheer number of superb voices in this first rate ensemble. In terms of talent, this season WBT's cup runneth over.
One of the great challenges about adapting a show like Tim and Scrooge to a space like Westchester Broadwway Theatre is navigating the enormous thrust stage. Director Nick Corley has performed a minor miracle taking what is ostensibly a Dickensian "chamber-play" type of story and adapting it to the grand, expansive stage at WBT. He makes the best possible use of the space, creating engaging worlds within worlds, cleverly drawing the audience in rather than thrusting the action out. (Why isn't he a regular Broadway fixture by now?)
The first act runs a bit long and can be a bit ponderous in places, and the finale wraps up a lot of loose end rather quickly, but that said, as holiday shows go, "Tim and Scrooge" can't be beat.
There is a wonderful story of love, redemption and family values at its core and glorious, effervescent melodies galore. It is not heavy theater, but given the state of the world we live in, it is a delightful and nostalgic diversion and a reminder of simpler times. Kudos to Westchester Broadway Theatre for once again providing its audience with a first rate, family-friendly show. Given the audience's jubilant ovation at the conclusion, it's a wonder this show isn't already a holiday staple at every regional theater in the county.
Music by Neil Berg, book and lyrics by Nick Meglin
Director, Nick Corley; Musical Director, Patrick Hoagland; Musical Supervisor, Eugene Gwozdz, Set design, Steve Loftus; Lighting design, Andrew Gmoser; Sound Design, John Hatton & Mark Zuckerman; Costume design, Martha Bromelmeier
Cast: George Lee Andrews (Scrooge), Justin Scott Brown (Tim), Rita Harvey (Martha Cratchit), John Hillner (Bob Cratchit), Daniel Marcus (Henry Hastings), Kevin Ligon (Jacob Marley), Marissa McGowan (Allison), Anna McNeeley (Ann Crachitt), Spencer Plachy, (Peter Crachit), Jed Resnick (Gerald Cratchit), Chandler Reeves (Vanessa Dorset)
Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza • Elmsford, NY 10523 • (914) 592-2222
December 3 - December 27, 2015
Westchester / Rockland Editor