Charles Dickens' miserly curmudgeon, who is visited by ghosts of the past, present and future on Christmas Eve, has held unique appeal since he was introduced in 1843. Gaining added musical charm recently, Ebenezer Scrooge now rivals Santa Claus as a holiday favorite.
Like Santa, Scrooge is ubiquitous at holiday time, popping up simultaneously at several locations. One singing Scrooge opened Saturday to a full house at Chesapeake Music Hall. Another opens tonight at Colonial Players and a third opens at Chesapeake Arts Center tomorrow.
Now in her seventh year of presenting musical versions of Dickens' tale, A Christmas Carol, Chesapeake Music Hall owner Sherry Kay Anderson is repeating the Michel Legrand-Sheldon Harnick musical version she presented last holiday season.
French composer Legrand's Dickens tale offers some delightful musical moments - like Belle and Scrooge's duet, "Penny by Penny," Scrooge's solo "Let There Be Time" and the lively "Balancing the Books" sung by a trio. Musical director Anita O'Connor brings the score to life, coaxing fine vocal performances from cast members and recruiting talented musicians to record sparkling musical accompaniment.
The Music Hall's A Christmas Carol offers excellent performances from leading characters and supporting players; imaginative, well-executed choreography; inspired singing; lovely costumes that evoke 19th-century London; and minimal sets that work well.
A Christmas Carol 's success depends on the actor's performance as Scrooge, and Alan Hoffman's intelligent portrayal is natural and believable. I found Hoffman's Scrooge more interesting than previous over-the-top versions I've seen. Hoffman's evolution from skinflint to fearful spirits' host to penitent benefactor is first-rate, and he sings with appropriate feeling in a pleasing baritone.
A Christmas Carol continues at Chesapeake Music Hall through Dec. 26. Reservations: 410-626-7515.