A sure way to brighten spirits for the holiday season is to see Chesapeake Music Hall's current production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Not your ordinary Victorian pageant, this one has Doug Yetter's delightful score, is bursting with warm spirits and is filled with innovative special effects.
Arriving a week before the 18th annual Colonial Players' version that opens tonight, Chesapeake Music Hall's production, which runs through Dec. 26, is a five-year tradition. This version had its 1992 premiere in New York with Yetter's music and Michael Hulett's lyrics.
Tom Quimby first played Ebenezer Scrooge at the Music Hall in 1997 and returns to the role for a second time. An excellent actor, Quimby clearly relishes playing the cantankerous Scrooge who evolves from nasty to dubious to repentant before becoming a lovable curmudgeon and joyous celebrant of Christmas.
In addition to portraying a wide range of emotions, Quimby sings a few songs, expertly follows the choreography and competes with a dazzling array of special effects that includes some "spirited" actors. He deals with a host of attacking generic wraiths and recognizable spirits such as Marley's ghost and Old Fezziwig.
Quimby delivers Dickens' Victorian dialogue with a convincing English accent. Although he might have overdone the climactic number, "Take My Heart," he is a spirited Scrooge. At times, Quimby's portrayal takes on a Shakespearean dimension that seems a bit overblown.
Quimby's Scrooge was given fine support by a cast that included several of the best singers I've heard in this offering. The songs never sounded better than when Alan Hoffman as Scrooge's nephew Fred sang, in his mellow baritone, "Ours for the Keeping," or when fine singer Danielle Treuberg as Belle delivered a lovely "Take My Heart." A trio of scavengers at Scrooge's deathbed -- portrayed by Sue Bell, Danielle Treuberg and Frank Antonio -- sing a hilariously nasty "It All Comes 'Round."
Becoming a bit of a holiday tradition himself, David B. Reynolds reprises his role as the ghost of Jacob Marley, gliding on roller skates and rattling chains at Scrooge, and later evoking visions of the brightest Christmas tree as he appears in a holly-bedecked costume of gold and green as the Spirit of Christmas Present.
Other outstanding players include Robin Chapin as Bob Cratchit and Mr. Fezziwig, Shannon Benil as Mrs. Cratchit, Mrs. Fezziwig and Mary, and Frank Antonio as Dick Wilkins and Old Joe.
Among the children, 12-year-old Nicole Anderson-Yetter, as Scrooge's young sister, Fan, is a rising star in acting, singing and dancing. Nicole's 8-year-old brother, Zachary Travis Anderson-Yetter, is a fine Turkey Boy.
As Tiny Tim, adorable 6-year-old Brynn Williams easily steals hearts with her delightful performance.
The music hall folks had another cause for celebrating the season as owner Sherry Kay announced that she had acquired a new chef who turned out a scrumptious buffet.
Reservations and information: 410-626-7515.