BWW Review: SCROOGE IN LOVE A New Audience Favorite
Only in San Francisco will theatregoers find the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and, yes, even Future dancing together on one stage. The mysterious figure clad in all black bops its head back and forth in just one of many surprising delights awaiting audiences throughout new musical "Scrooge in Love!" 42nd Street Moon gives the "Christmas Carol" sequel a perfect premiere at the intimate Eureka Theatre, now through December 13.
A year after the original haunting, Ebenezer Scrooge boasts to Jacob Marley of his newfound reputation as a beloved benefactor. But Scrooge has one more lesson to learn, Marley states, and he cannot find true happiness without it. The three ghosts of Christmas return to help Ebenezer learn that "You Can't Put a Price on Love."
Elise Youssef eagerly skips down the aisle with bubble guns in hand, perhaps getting some inspiration from the Ghost of Christmas Past in 1988's film "Scrooged." Then comes Will Springhorn, Jr.'s hearty Ghost of Christmas Present with the reminder that the "present" is a gift not to be lost. David Naughton dons the dark garb of the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Scrooge once again visits Fezziwig's holiday party and witnesses his first meeting with the love of his youth, Belle. Here, the script slightly deviates from Charles Dickens' novella. Scrooge and Belle never become engaged, and Belle leaves because of a misunderstanding. The changes serve the story, however, as Scrooge glimpses what has become of Belle and wonders at "The Things You Should Have Done."
Creators Larry Grossman (of "Snoopy!!!" fame), Kellen Blair and Duane Poole give their title character some beautiful moments of contemplation. Guest star Jason Graae's comedic charms are familiar to Sacramento and the Bay Area audiences, but his tender Scrooge showcases a lovely, versatile voice, and provokes a tear or two in songs such as "A Kitchen Built for Twenty" (with a table set for one).
Of course, dancing and singing ghosts and a cheerful ensemble equal plenty of good humor, as well. Youssef breaks glass (off stage) with her striking, operatic voice, during her sensational and extravagant "I Love Love." The Cratchit family, including a now-well Tiny Tim, muses over the qualities of a perfect wife for Scrooge. And Scrooge rejoices at his own future death because it means Belle still loves him. Ryan Drummond also steals much of the show with his tongue-in-cheek speech and morbid mannerisms as the ghost of Jacob Marley.
With eloquent book and captivating song so well balanced and an all-around fantastic cast, "Scrooge in Love" has a bright future ahead. Audiences will love "Love," from the whimsical clockwork scenic design (by Hector Zavala) to the excellent three-person orchestra led by the always-enthusiastic Dave Dobrusky.
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