Reviewed by Janine Rumble
What a great start to the Christmas season I had when I went to watch the BMOS Musical Theatre Company production of A Christmas Carol at the Alexandra in Birmingham last night.
If you are looking for a lovely way to start your Christmas celebrations, then I can wholeheartedly recommend going to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It is a retelling of the classic story, with a musical twist.
BMOS Musical Theatre Company is a huge amateur company made up of a very talented ensemble of adults and children who all performed brilliantly. There really are some very talented members of the cast, with amazing singing voices accompanied by a professional pit orchestra.
The stage is set as a street in old London town, with St Paul’s Cathedral in the background, where much of the action takes place. Parts of the set changes throughout the show to become the Royal Exchange, the outside of Scrooge’s house, the Law Courts, a factory, Fezziwig’s Bank, Scrooge and Marley Ltd, The Music Hall, The Cratchit House and St Paul’s Graveyard. The other set is the inside of Ebenezer Scrooge’s miserly chambers. The story begins in the street with the whole cast telling the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his extreme dislike of Christmas and merriment through song. We meet Ebenezer Scrooge played by Alistair Jolliffe. He portrays him brilliantly, down to the haggard look, slow walk and perpetual sneer as he glares at the other characters. Watching his transformation from a man who dislikes people and hates Christmas to a man who has a renewed vigour and love of life, people and Christmas was great.
In the first scene, we are introduced to all the characters and learn how their lives are intertwined with Ebenezer Scrooge’s and the effect having him in their lives has through song. To see the entire company on stage is a remarkable sight. We meet the long-suffering Bob Cratchit, played by Daniel Parker and Scrooge’s nephew Fred, played by Michael McCulley, amongst other characters who appear in the street. The scene then changes to outside Scrooge’s house, where we first meet Mrs Mopps, Scrooge’s house cleaner, played superbly by Jen Eglinton, later in the show, she shows off her comedic skills. We then see Marley’s ghost for the first time, who appears shrieking and eerily in a window. Scrooge dismisses it and goes inside to his bedchambers. Later, Jacob Marley, played by Pat Pryce flies through the air to warn Scrooge to repent his ways or else he would end up the same as him. He tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts, the Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Rosie Harvey, the Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Elliot Beech and the Ghost of Christmas Future, played by Michaela Hinton. Each ghost teaches Ebenezer Scrooge something and this helps him learn and understand and finally repent his ways, with heart-warming, feel good Christmassy effect.
As this is an amateur production, it was not as slick as you would expect a big stage production performance to be. At times, the stage went silent and the audience was left wondering what was going to happen next. Or some of the actors did not know where to be on stage, but this is not surprising considering how many people were on the stage or when to sing. I found the Ghost of Christmas Future to be very odd and distracting from what was going on on the stage, I know this ghost is silent, but it moved around a lot and distracted me from the main bit that was happening on stage. The Ghost of Christmas Past was a bit like this too, with lots of hand movements which distracted me too and I felt the costume she had on, a blue/green sparkly dress was a bit out of place in amongst all of the Victorian style dress and was a bit too sparkly and in your face.
However, it was a brilliant production and I was in awe of how hard all of these people must have worked to put together this production. It really was amazing to see all the cast on stage, there were so many men, women and children. The boy who played Tiny Tim, Conor Dodds, was brilliant, he is sure to go on to do great things, as will all the other young members of the cast. After the final bows, you could see how much the cast had enjoyed themselves.
The sets and costumes were authentic to the era and really added to the atmosphere, as did the music from the orchestra and the songs that helped tell the story so well. It was lovely to see the main parts of Charles Dickens’ still spoken, but the songs added to the story beautifully.
I give this show 3.5 out of 5; go see it as it is a lovely Christmas show.
I watched A Christmas Carol at The Alexandra in Birmingham. I have visited the theatre once before and it is such a lovely venue close to parking and within easy walking distance of Birmingham New Street Station. All staff I met were lovely and polite, especially the lovely woman who directed us to our seats in the stalls. The bars were well stocked with all the typical drinks and snacks you would expect at a theatre. The theatre was clean and tidy and the toilet facilities were ample, but there was some queuing, which is to be expected, but these were also clean and tidy. It is such a lovely theatre and as it is easy to get to from the train station, I will be keeping an eye on what shows they have coming up in the future and will be a returning patron.
Tickets cost from £18.40 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
A Christmas Carol is at The Alexandra in Birmingham from 26-30 November 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/birmingham or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
The Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS