Back in 1992, in Manchester, we saw the Leslie Bricusse musical ‘Scrooge’ in its first transfer to the stage, adapted from the Albert Finney film. It starred the late Anthony Newley, a big personality with a big voice, who was endearingly grumpy in his nightgown and cap on his way to redemption.
Fast forward twenty years and it is time to make my acquaintance with this show again, this time starring that performer of perennial cheerfulness, Tommy Steele. No-one has made more appearances at the London Palladium than this chirpy chap, and of those appearances, one previous triumph was that of Ebenezer Scrooge himself. And now he’s back …
Early November may not be the perfect time for such a seasonal show to make its return to the London stage, but in its joie de vivre and Christmas spirit, ‘Scrooge’ achieves the impossible – to give the audience a light heart and a smile with which to go back out into the world. To critique Steele’s performance would be pointless, as he has been playing much the same part for years; even when he’s grumpy before the ghosts of Marley and others arrive there is a twinkle in his eye.
Interestingly, Marley was played by Barry Howard back in 1992 and again now. He has a different wig, and shows more of a stately age than two decades ago, but he’s still very good.