London Musical Theatre Orchestra‘s (LMTO’s) A Christmas Carol, The Musical in Concert
Lyceum Theatre, 11th of December and another performance on the 18th.
5 Sparkling Christmas Stars
Review by Rhys Scrivener.
Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843 and is one of the most captivating Christmas stories of all times. Miser, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley who informs him three ghosts from the past, present and future will appear in the hope of redeeming him from his present course. There have been hundreds of adaptations of this iconic story including the classic 1951 version starring Alistair Sim and the Muppet version starring Michael Caine.
There is a little bit of Scrooge in all of us: Christmas appearing in the shops in late August, the teenager sat a couple of seats away from me using her phone and the perfume ads that make no sense to any sane person. Bah Humbug! Well LMTO have the remedy for any Scrooge with their sparkling concert version of Alan Menken’s A Christmas Carol.
The orchestra is made up of a mix of seasoned professional musicians and ones at the start of their professional careers. Experience meets youthful energy resulting in some stunning music with the Entr’acte to Act 2 being a highlight of the evening. LMTO are an orchestra that are greater than the sum of their very talented parts. In front of them, a dream cast including Michael Xavier as Bob Cratchit and Lucie Jones as Emily. Behind them, the LMTO chorus provide an ideal partner for the evening’s entertainment.
Photo Credit Nick Rutter
Glenn Carter as Jacob Marley was truly outstanding and the ease in which he delivered the mix of emotions made his character so real and powerful. Nicolas Colicos and Sophie-Louise Dann are splendidly cast as Mr and Mrs Fezziwig and their number Mr Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball was everything you need from a musical theatre number. The Ghost of Christmas Past was brilliantly delivered by Gemma Sutton with a voice of an angel. Hugh Maynard shined as the Ghost of Christmas Present and had excellent timing in Abundance and Charity.
The younger members of the cast could so easily have been overwhelmed in the concert setting but they all effortlessly rose to the occasion and demonstrated why they are already West End stars. Tobias Ungleson as Tiny Tim in You Mean More to Me had the whole audience “ahh” in unison.
Robert Lindsay is sublime as Scrooge and throughout the evening delivered some delicate comic moments and gestures without ever detracting from his impeccable and endearing characterisation. His song Dancing on your Grave melted my heart to its core and let the Christmas spirit flood in.
LMTO went far beyond their charitable objective and defined what is possible with musical theatre. Other producers should take a leaf out of their festive book. You don’t need gimmicks, big sets or one-hit wonder celebrities to make a spectacular production. Concentrate on getting the music right and let your audiences’ imagination run wild. LMTO transported us to the heart of Victorian England allowing us to escape the stresses of the season.
Photo Credit Nick Rutter
A final mention must go to conductor, Freddie Tapner – A phenomenon. There are very few professional conductors that can take an orchestra so cleanly and precisely to such symphonic heights and then bring them down to balance and frame perfectly the beautiful melodies. I doubt Menken could have conducted his score better himself. It is like watching a lumber jack cut down the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree with a chainsaw and then using the same chainsaw to trim the perfect Robert Lindsay beard.
In summary: LMTO’s A Christmas Carol is a Christmas treat. Just a few tickets left for the performance on the 18th December so book quick to catch this stunning concert.
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