Pick Me Up’s big winter show of 2019 at York’s Grand Opera House is a festive extravaganza – Leslie Bricusse’s Scrooge The Musical from 1992.
This is a lesser-seen version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, and it is easy to see why. Unlike other adaptations of A Christmas Carol, Bricusse’s version hinges on songs that are anything but great; the lyrics overly simplistic and the music dreary. Somehow, Pick Me Up Theatre and Director Robert Readman manage to uplift the obscure text with their signature high-quality design and gusto, filling York Grand Opera House with the spirit of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come.
Mark Hird (Dad’s Army; My Fair Lady) plays the titular bitter old miser Ebeneezer Scrooge with perfect aplomb, both delightfully disdainful and movingly vulnerable. Rory Mulvihill (Dad’s Army; Privates on Parade) is the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present, first appearing resplendently reclining on a rolled-on nativity scene. Alan Park (Monster Makers) plays long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit next to a Miss Piggy-inspired Ethel by Flo Poskitt. Tony Froud makes a formidable floating Jacob Marley much like his monster men in Monster Makers. Frankie Bounds make a sweet romantic hero of Young Ebenezer alongside Jennie Wogan’s Isabel.
Lighting by Adam Moore is apt in its mixture of delicate and startling, matching Scrooge’s eye-opening journey through his memories – albeit sometimes blinding. Sound (Ian Thomson) is definitively on the loud side, so be sure to take ear plugs to protect your hearing from that combined with Bricusse’s more shrill harmonies. Some more catchy numbers come in the form of Andrew Isherwood’s Dick Van Dyke-esque Tom Jenkins, including a scathing Father Christmas and coffin-tapping Thank You Very Much. Utilising the tremendous space and cast to great effect, Pick Me Up’s production is a great evening of spectacle entertainment.
Scrooge the Musical is playing at the Grand Opera House York until Sunday 1 December, tickets available here.