REVIEW: A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Lyceum Theatre) ★★★★★

For one night only, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future invaded the Lyceum Theatre – on the exact day that Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was originally published in 1843.

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra brought Alan Menken’s and Lynn Ahrens’ musical to the UK for the first time and aligned a stellar cast opposite Robert Lindsay as Ebenezer Scrooge. Alongside the three-time Olivier Award winner featured, amongst others, Madalena Alberto, Hugh Maynard and Author/V-logger and West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher as the ghosts.

Surprisingly, even though stateside the musical has been such a hit that it ran annually from 1994 to 2003, the full staging has not reached the home of the festive classic yet.

However, the story surrounding Scrooge is so well-known that it does not lose any of its expressiveness or narrative detail without overly intrinsic set designs or much action.

With music, lyrics and the book written by Alan Menken (Alladin, The Little Mermaid), Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime) and Mike Ockrent (Me and My Girl), the music speaks for itself. The brilliant score is immediately catchy and the lyrics are wonderfully unstilted and appropriate for the adaptation. The 32-artists-strong London Musical Theatre Orchestra perform with ease and skill.

What the play lacks in performed action is made up by the clever musical substitutions of the orchestra.

Robert Lindsay is truly the leading man with his mesmerising stage presence. The weight of the production is on his shoulder, as he is the only artist who is almost continuously on centre-stage, and the only one completely acting out his role (rather than “only” singing it). Lindsay is the perfect curmudgeon, and Alex Gaumond a great counterforce with his portrayal of loving father Bob Cratchit. Unfortunately I cannot find the name of the child playing Tiny Tom anywhere but LMTO certainly managed to score the tiniest, cutest boy with the most darling voice for the role.

Another highlight is Norman Bowman and his big number as Jacob Marley, haunting old friend and partner Scrooge.

It is difficult to find a fault with this concert, besides the fact that it makes me want to see the fully staged version with the same brilliant cast NOW.

Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent