Any production that opens in December has the potential to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but the Dayton Playhouse’s staging of Leslie Bricusse’s heartwarming if musically limited “Scrooge!” is certainly worthwhile.
Director Jennifer Lockwood, using the revised adaptation of Bricusse’s 1970 Academy Award nominated film of the same name, assembles a warm, purposeful cast to portray the familiar Dickensian characters that comprise an eventful Christmas Eve in England circa 1843. Bricusse oddly simplifies his score with sound-alike lullabies and marches, but Lockwood keeps the action engaging and emotionally sound nonetheless by ensuring effective characterizations in addition to breezy pacing and pleasant unity in the ensemble scenes.
David Shough, duly intimidating and in fine vocal form, deliciously embodies the titular miser whose reflective journey of self-discovery, particularly the importance of cherishing and loving life, remains very impactful. It’s particularly great to see Shough fully invest in the iconic time travel that gives the show its meaningful pulse. As Ebenezer’s past, present and future is revealed he becomes more than a mere bystander thanks to the joy, heartache, inquisitiveness, and regret permeating throughout Shough’s excellently detailed performance. In fact, his truly wonderful execution of Ebenezer’s climactic transformation, interpreted with abundant glee and tenderness, might bring tears to your eyes.
Elsewhere, the Cratchit clan delightfully consists of Brad Bishop, Laura Bloomingdale, Gabrielle Culver, Ryan Hedberg, and the very endearing Emily Cypher as Tiny Tim. Booming baritone Michael Taint, kindly Heather Martin and jovial John Bukowski respectively tackle the roles of Jacob Marley/Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, Ghost of Christmas Past and Ghost of Christmas Present. Real-life spouses Doug and Mary Louise Warrick are enjoyable as Young Scrooge/Nephew and Isabel/Helen. Jim Lockwood and Dawn Roth Smith are equally compatible as Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig. Darren Brown shines as Dick Wilkins/Tom Jenkins, specifically in “The Milk of Human Kindness” and “Thank You Very Much” spiritedly choreographed by Debra Strauss.
In related news, Brooklyn playwright Beau Willimon, winner of the 2005 Dayton Playhouse FutureFest for his marvelous political drama “Farragut North,” has received a Golden Globe nomination for his “Farragut”-inspired screenplay of “The Ides of March.” Willimon’s nomination, which he shares with George Clooney and Grant Heslov, bodes well for his chances at an Academy Award nomination. The Golden Globe Awards will air Jan. 15 on NBC. Academy Award nominations will be announced Jan. 24.
“Scrooge!” continues through Dec. 18 at the Dayton Playhouse, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Act One: 70 minutes; Act Two: 50 minutes. Tickets are $10-$15. For tickets or more information, call (937) 424-8477 or visit www.daytonplayhouse.com