REVIEW: A Christmas Carol 2017
Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical have given themselves a truly lofty ambition – and this they state at the beginning of every show as they rev the audience up before it starts: they aim for “A Christmas Carol - the Musical” to be THE new Filipino Christmas Tradition for families (at least for entertainment).
This is the second time that the producers have staged this production, and they intend to keep coming back every year as long as the Globe Iconic Theater is standing.
Living up to their promise, this year's version offered a different experience, with a simpler - yet intense set design by Ed Lacson Jr., new choreography and new cast members.Scrooge (Miguel Faustmann), Tiny Tim (Jaime Yupangco) and Mr. Cratchit (Jon Abella)
Charles Dicken's tale
Most people are familiar with the moral tale of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge and “Bah Humbug” as there have been countless retellings from stage plays, TV movies and even an animated movie with Jim Carrey in it.
Most have had to read the story at some point for school, so many people are aware of the main plot points: a stingy miser (Ebenezer Scrooge played by Miguel Faustmann) who keeps his workers slaving all through the holidays due to his disdain for the Christmas season.
The ghost of his former business partner, Marley, appears at night, warning him of a visit by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, as they show him the error of his ways.
Scrooge and Marley (Noel Rayos)
The Ghost of Christmas Past (Franco Laurel)
The Ghost of Christmas Present (Nico Dans)
The Ghost of Christmas Future (Rissey Reyes)
Familiar characters such as embattled employee Bob Cratchit (Jon Abella) and Tiny Tim (Jaime Yupangco and Elai Estrella) become central to Scrooge, as parallels are drawn by the Ghosts between Scrooge’s past, and the consequences of his current actions into the future, if he doesn’t change.
And Scrooge does change and becomes a better man, making Charles Dickens’ tale one of the most enduring redemption stories in the world as it is retold every Christmas season in some form.
Mrs. Cratchit (Tricia Canilao), Tiny Tim (Jaime Yupangco) and Bob Cratchit (Jon Abella)
A Christmas Carol 2017 - The Musical
So, what is special about this version of A Christmas Carol, that makes it worthy of being a contender to be YOUR new Family Christmas Entertainment tradition?
The true magic of the show is in the music and the cast. The cast members interpret the songs with the familiarity of family members coming home and sharing their love of the story with each other and the audience.
There’s a warmth to their renditions that make certain numbers stand out and have you singing them even after leaving the theater. The musical scoring and lyrics of Menken and Ahrens is romantic, hopeful and importantly memorable - almost to the point of Jose Mari Chan-like ease of recall. The Fezziwigs' song is the ‘ratatat’ song that the children love to keep singing out of nowhere.
Most of the cast came straight from the success of Newsies, and their choreography is amazing to behold. At some point, the mics pick up too much and make it difficult to hear the words, but the key themes of the musical repeat often enough to cement itself.
Jonathan (Tory Cortez) in conversation with Scrooge
The young Ebenezer (Laurence Mossman) lifts Emily (Mitzi Lao) while Scrooge relives his past
The production design seems more simple than the previous staging -per previous attendees- and this apparently helped the audience be less immersed during the scary moments, when the ghosts of Marley (Noel Rayos), and the Ghost of Christmas Future (Rissey Reyes), terrorize Scrooge.
Still, for families with younger kids, it is important to be pre-warned of these ghostly - but beautiful- scenes. The pictures give you a good idea of what to expect during the show.
Rissy Reyes' version of the Ghost of Christmas Future is a bloody Sadako straight out of a Japanese movie nightmare
A glimpse into the Future Surviving that, the musical ends with a flurry of snow which lends magic to the air as the show closes (and every parents’ concern when the kids try to eat the artificial snow - so watch that too).
God Bless Everyone The story of Scrooge had been told more darky in other retellings, but it does raise the point why Scrooge is worthy of redemption. Why was he worthy of a friend like Marley who came back to keep his spirit from chains?
Menken and Ahrens elaborate on this the most with “God Bless Us Everyone”:
Let the stars in the sky remind us of Man’s Compassion
Let us love till we die and God Bless us everyone
Till each child is fed
Till all men are free
Till the world becomes a family
Star by star in the sky and kindness by human kindness
Let me love till I die
And God Bless Everyone.
"God Bless Mr. Scrooge" says Tiny Tim
A changed Scrooge
Merry Christmas Who amongst us does not hope for second chances and forgiveness? This rendition makes us feel that compassion isn’t something we earn, but is something we are given and something we give ourselves. And that’s how God blesses everyone.
Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical hope that this musical is “the place in my heart where I still come home to you”. It has definitely earned a place in many hearts, so catch it soon, as each year there will be changes that keep the retelling fresh, as all traditions are kept fresh.
A Christmas Carol runs until December 27 at the BGC Amphitheatre. For more information, tickets, and for show schedules, visit Ticketworld.
Use promocode ManilaForKidsACC15 for 15% off the ticket price. Please note that the promo code applies to all shows UNTIL December 21 only.
ManilaForKids Promo tickets are on sale from November 8 – December 20 only.
For all December events, have a look at our events calendar.
Text by Charmaine Nuguid and ManilaForKids editor.
Charmaine is a theater loving mom of an aspiring performer. The family has just come back to the Philippines after a few years as an expatriate in a city with minimal theater and is profoundly grateful for the great variety of live entertainment in Manila. She works in social and environmental sustainability and advocates to align the Philippines with global frameworks and practices.