Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
A Christmas Carol is always presented in the Bay Area during the holidays and this year there are three productions in the North Bay, East Bay, and here in San Francisco. However, this is an entirely different version of the tale. Scrooge in Love! follows Scrooge one year after his life has changed for the better. He is rich beyond words but still feels something is missing. The problem, it seems, is the missed opportunity in his youth, of not pursing Belle. The Ghost of Jacob Marley visits, along with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and they analyze and remedy the problem.
Jason Graae is dazzling as Ebenezer Scrooge. He gives the role a more mellow characterization. His excellent vocal cords are vibrant on "The Things You Should Have Done" and "Sad I'm Dead." His 11 o'clock number, "A Kitchen Built for Twenty," is beautifully and poignantly sung.
Returning to the Bay Area after a 10-year absence, Kalon Thibodeaux delightfully plays Young Scrooge. He has pitch perfect resonance singing "You're Safe with Me." Elise Youssef is light and airy as the Ghost of Christmas Past and radiates sex with her bold vocal cords. Ryan Drummond gives an outstanding performance as the Ghost of Jacob Marley and wonderfully belts out "The Hours in Between" with his powerful voice. Melissa Reinertson is excellent as Belle and with her beautiful soprano voice sings "Safe with Me." Will Springhorn Jr. dominates the stage in an overexcited elucidation of the Ghost of Christmas Present. You might say he beautifully hams it up.
Andrew Willis-Woodward, returning after five years in New York, splendidly portrays Bob Cratchit while Skye Violet Wilson is perfect as Mrs. Cratchit. David Ryan and Brittney Monroe nicely play Peter and Martha Cratchit while Michael Grasso gives a lively performance as Tiny Tim (in this show no longer crippled). Covered in a black cape from head to toe, David Naughton moves silently as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Ted Zoldan and Heather Orth give sparkling performances as Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig and young Anjali Blacker is charming as Nora.
Rebecca Valentino's perfectly period costumes add flair to the production, especially the Ghost of Jacob Marley, with chains and the wildest hairdo I have seen this year, and the glistening all-white costume for the Ghost of Christmas Past. Hector Zavala's set is minimal but effective. Choreographer Staci Arriaga's dances are very sprightly, especially the ones for the Fezziwigs' party. Director Dyan McBride keeps the action flowing efficiently. Dave Dobrusky on piano, Ami Nashimoto on cello, and Ken Brill on synthesizer keep the music down since the singers are not miked. They add to the pleasure of this musical.
Bottom line: If you're in a bah, humbug mood this holiday season, Scrooge in Love! might be just the remedy. It plays through December 13, 2015, at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco. For tickets and information, visit 42ndstmoon.org. Coming up next will be Rodgers and Hart's The Boys from Syracuse opening on March 23 and running through April 17, 2016.