By Cathy Mathias
The Heneger Center for the Arts is treating us all this Holiday Season with “Scrooge! The Musical.” You don’t want to miss this fun, heart-warming show filled with lively, toe-tapping songs performed by a local cast and orchestra and directed in fine fashion by Bryan Bergeron.
Based on “A Christmas Carol”, written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, this musical is about the old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, and how he’s visited on Christmas Eve by ghosts showing him the error of his ways. This tale of redemption never grows old; we love to see Scrooge’s transformation.
Michael Thompson is delightfully cranky as a gray-whiskered, frog-voiced Scrooge, bah-humbugging and sticking his tongue out at everyone. This has to be the most adorable Scrooge character I’ve ever seen in Brevard. Skittering across the stage, huddling in fear, or parading around like a bombastic old codger, Thompson is a joy to watch.
Bob Cratchit is a convincingly earnest man as played by James Coffey, Sr. “The Beautiful Day” as sung by Michael Gene Havkin, who portrays Tiny Tim, is astonishing in its delicacy and warmth. He’s a talent to keep our eyes on.
Double roles are cast for Dylan Pomichter who plays a fine young Ebenezer and Scrooge’s nephew. Also, Merissa Laite is double-cast as the young Ebenezer’s fiancée and the nephew’s wife. Their singing duets are lovely. Although Laite is a pharmacist, she studied music at the University of Alabama and performed in many operas there. She has an outstanding voice.
As for the ghostly types, Bob Gray plays the Ghost of Jacob Marley as a specter who is all dead-weight, wrapped up in his chains and veiled by Bryce Niehaus’ dark, eerie lighting design. Peyton Newell, a sophomore at Bayside High School, is lovely as the all-in-white Ghost of Christmas Past (and there’s a little plot twist there). She also has a fine voice.
Anthony Santiago is a stand-out in his deep-voiced, vigorous portrayal of the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present. Dylan Myers portrays the silent Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, and although most costumes in this show are very attractive, his costume is rather uninspired.
Scott Sutherland, portraying Tom Jenkins, sings very well. His wife, Arlene, is the choreographer and their daughter, Kira, is assistant stage manager of this show.
Susan Thompson energetically plays Mrs. Cratchit with an unforgettable disdain for Scrooge. (She’s married to this Scrooge in real life!)
The songs for this show were written by the Academy Award-nominated composer Leslie Bricusse. They are upbeat and fun, in keeping with the light hearted nature of this particular interpretation.
David M. Robertson’s set design uses in the background an enormous clock face from the Victorian era, ready to strike midnight, and it’s lit for different moods. Panels are lowered from squeaky flywheels to depict an office, bedroom or a graveyard. Tell the kids to look for the fun special effect with the ghost of Marley at the door.
It’s wonderful that the Henegar Center was able to purchase a new digital sound system. They’re working toward raising money for new lights and stage enhancements. This is a local theatre that deserves its community’s support.
Along with an audience of children and adults on a Sunday afternoon, I got into the Christmas spirit and floated out the door with a smile on my face and goodwill toward all.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “Scrooge! The Musical” runs through Dec. 16 at the Henegar Center for the Arts, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne. Curtain is 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $23 general, $21 seniors 65 and older and military and $16 for children under 18 years of age. The Henegar Call 321-723-8698 or visit www.henegar.org.