It has been my usual policy to try and review a local production based solely on what is presented on stage that night.
That becomes a little harder to do when it is the third year in a row you have seen the same production by the same company. Comparing and contrasting is a natural thing to do.
Bay Area Stage’s third year of “Scrooge the Musical” is appropriately spooky and heartening and continues its tradition of offering a Christmas gift to the local community.
The production moved from the Bay Terrace Theater across town in Vallejo to the Fetterly Playhouse for the Arts. Now, intangibles that are beyond the realms of directors, actors, singers and dancers such as the fact that during the winter the Fetterly is absolutely freezing at night, should not be held against the company.
Still, it is hard to be entertained when one is distracted by a decided lack of comfort. BAS co-founder Stacey Loew provided blankets and since I am a Fetterly veteran, I came prepared and actually brought an electric heating pad with me.
BAS co-founder Jeff Lowe returned to the role of Ebenezer Scrooge after casting another actor last year. Scrooge is not an easy role to pull off convincingly as being believably bitter then frightened and morose and ultimately joyous and bubbly, is quite a journey for an actor. Thankfully, Lowe seemed as snug in the role as the the stocking cap he wore most of the show was on his head.
“Scrooge! The Musical” is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol;” a classic tale of yuletide redemption that was first published 170 years ago. The musical was adapted from the 1970 motion picture “Scrooge,” which starred Albert Finney in the title role and Sir Alec Guinness as the Ghost of Marley. It was first staged in 1992.
Last year’s show seemed to really click; this year, while still very good, just didn’t quite knock it outta the park. A number of cast members were so sick opening weekend that the show I had planned to attend was cancelled, so perhaps missing a performance had an effect.
The actors who played the four spirits performed their parts well – many of them returning for a second or even third time including, Randall Raymond ( Jacob Marley), Erin Smith (Christmas Past), Obdulio Butler (Christmas Present) and Gene Cismowski (Christmas Yet to Come).
Other cast members who were standouts included Jonathan Payne as Young Scrooge/Nephew, Bunny Nash as Isabel/Helen, Jorge Covarrubias and Eli Meurer as Tiny Tim. Brian O’Reilly was again a delight as Mr. Fezziwig.
The mirror where the ghosts entered like last year had a cool fog effect and one plus of the un-insulated Fetterly is that the fog which was a little stifling at the Bay Terrace hightailed it outta there taking the same route as any heat.
I liked the nice added touch of using projected scenes from London behind the stage this year and also using other video clips to enhance the illusion.
One criticism of the show that I made two years ago still stands in my mind: the show itself is just . . . OK. Unlike another Dickens’ novel adapted to a musical – “Oliver!” – the songs just aren’t that memorable. “Thank you Very Much,” and “December the Twenty-fifth” are infectious tunes and others were delivered well by the cast, but many of the songs, even though I have heard them three years in a row, just don’t connect – at least with me.
Still, the overall feeling evoked is the Christmas spirit of good will toward others and gratitude for blessings we too often take for granted.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org