Norwich theatre company presents A Christmas Carol with a Broadway twist
- Credit: Simon Finlay Photography
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is given a Broadway twist in the latest show by Norwich-based Planet Theatre Productions. Arts correspondent Emma Knights finds out more from director Peter Beck.
An all-singing all-dancing production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol complete with all the festive trimmings is taking to the stage in Norwich this week.
Planet Theatre Productions is presenting A Christmas Carol The Musical and has transformed Norwich School's Daynes Sports Centre, just off Tombland, into Victorian England for the occasion.
This latest show by the Norwich-based amateur theatre company follows on from the group's productions of Return to the Forbidden Planet at the Maddermarket Theatre and The Producers at Norwich Puppet Theatre, and director Peter Beck said it was Planet Theatre Productions' biggest show to date.
It is based on the Broadway version of Dickens' story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future which premiered at New York's Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden in 1994 and at London's Lyceum Theatre in 2016.
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'A Christmas Carol is a show that I think is loved again and again by people, and people have seen all sorts of different versions. This Broadway version was only first performed in the UK in 2016 so it has never been seen before in Norwich and Norfolk,' Mr Beck said.
'It's very much a cross between a Broadway musical and a very traditional version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. It's very much the story that we all know and recognise, but with the glitter of Broadway sprinkled on top of it.
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'There's lots of moving moments, very funny moments, comical moments, some spooky moments, lots of fun-loving and romantic moments. We have tried to make it appropriate for all ages, it's very much a family show.'
As the show's title suggests, big musical numbers play a huge part in the production, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens.
Mr Beck said: 'There's some really catchy songs in it, some songs that sound very much like carols and some real toe-tapping numbers.
'There's a tap dancing number when Scrooge is shown what kind of Christmas he could have had. There's a lovely song with oversized presents and lots of dancing elves as he is shown what he is missing.'
Twenty-three adults and 16 children are in the show's cast, with David Rees playing the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, and John Mangan playing the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley. Gavin Bromley takes on the role of Scrooge's poor clerk Bob Cratchit, and Max Desmedt and Darcie Mann share the role of Bob Cratchit's youngest son Tiny Tim.
An army of volunteers has also been working hard behind the scenes to create both the theatre and the Victorian setting within which the cast tell Dickens' story about the spirit of Christmas and the season of goodwill.
'We have transformed Norwich School's Daynes Sports Centre into our auditorium,' said Mr Beck, who explained work started on creating the unique theatre space on Sunday.
'We brought in a massive stage that is five metres by 10 metres, then we brought in all the lighting rigs that we have hung from the ceiling - we have about 50 lights hanging down. We have also brought in a sound system for our six-piece live band, and we have even got an 8ft real Christmas tree on stage as part of the set.'
He said audiences would be transported into Victorian England from the moment they stepped into the auditorium and perhaps even before.
'One of the nice things about the venue is that it is in part of what looks like Dickensian Norwich. It is in the heart of Tombland and a stone's throw from Elm Hill,' he said.
And those who book tickets for the matinee performance of this most festive of productions on December 23 will also be joined by a very special guest - Father Christmas - who will be paying a visit before the show.
Planet Theatre Productions' A Christmas Carol The Musical is at Norwich School's Daynes Sports Centre, just off Tombland, from December 20 to 31 (excluding December 24–26).
Tickets cost £15 for adults, £12 for concessions, and £10 for under 16s. To book, visit www.planettheatreproductions.co.uk
Father Christmas will be paying a visit to Daynes Sports Centre on December 23 from 12.30pm until 2pm.