Scrooge the Musical in Manila: Celebrate Christmas Yet-to-Come This Holiday Season
Ebenezer Scrooge (yes, the very personification of a grumpy old man) may be the last person anyone would like to get to know before the happy holidays up ahead. However, you may just change your mind about this miser after watching Repertory Philippines’ Scrooge the Musical in Manila; you may even want to invite him for Christmas dinner then. Scrooge comes to life in the Leslie Bricusse musical adaptation of the classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. It will be playing until December 14 at Greenbelt Onstage.
The many faces of Ebenezer Scrooge as convincingly portrayed by stage stalwart Miguel Faustmann in Scrooge the Musical in Manila
The cheapskate character from Dickens classic is not out to cast a dreary and grey mood to the merriment in the air, but will remind people of what Christmas is all about—the spirit of giving, sharing and loving. It is really an ideal holiday treat for the entire family. For parents who have read the book and have seen more than one movie/stage adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’, the musical is a good way to introduce Scrooge to their children.
Scrooge is alternately played by stage stalwarts Miguel Faustmann and Chinggoy Alonso. Faustmann, who played the role quite convincingly, performed during the press preview of Scrooge the Musical in Manila. He was able to show, with much depth and subtleties, the transformation of the character from the grumpy and greedy businessman to a giving and generous man.
The musical is set in Victorian London where everyone in Scrooge’s neighborhood are excited for Christmas—from his clerk Bob Cratchit (played by Chino Veguillas), nephew Harry (Arnel Carrion) and the entire bevy of vendors (lively portrayed by the ensemble of Andee Achacoso, Khevin Almario, Rachel Coates, David Shawn Delgado, Daniel Drilon, Natalie Everett, Thea Gloria, Vien Alen King, Bianca Mauricio, Chill Ocampo, Jay Pangilinan, Joshua Ramirez, Albert Silos and Dwight Angelo Vito Cruz). All of this to the dismay of Scrooge who grumbles and angrily mumbles his famous line— “Bah, Humbug!” to everyone who greets him a ‘Merry Christmas’.
Veteran stage actor Chinggoy Alonso and Soleil Luna Bueno are the alternate performers for the characters of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, respectively.
While everyone else is with their family and loved ones for Christmas Eve, Scrooge is alone in his gloomy home as usual. This is when the three ghosts of Christmas— Christmas Past (Cara Barredo), Christmas Present (Oliver Usison) and Christmas Yet-to-Come (Dwight Angelo Vito Cruz) took turns haunting and enlightening Scrooge.
Scrooge is warned about the appearances of the three ghosts by another ghost, Jacob Marley (Raul Montesa), his business partner who died several years ago. Marley’s restless soul begs Scrooge to mend his ways so that he will not suffer the same punishment of eternal suffering. Scrooge shows no remorse, though, and even gloats that it is not his fault that Marley is dead and he is still alive.
Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future haunt and taunt Scrooge.
The first to appear is the Ghost of Christmas Past (a fairy-like apparition), who takes Scrooge and the audience back to the younger days of Ebenezer (fondly called Ebby), who used to love Christmas. There are scenes of Young Ebby caroling and later on as a working professional, joining all the fun at his office’s Christmas party.
In one of those parties, he falls in love with Isabel (Christine Flores), whom he later on unintentionally neglects with his preoccupation in saving money for their wedding. Thus, Isabel leaves Scrooge forlorn and forsaken. This gives a glimpse on how Scrooge came to be so cold and withdrawn. The song, ‘Love While You Can’, captures the lesson learned by Scrooge—to avoid regrets and express his love.
Stage dynamo Gabo Tiongson is quite endearing as Tiny Tim of the Cratchit family. His solo singing performance was much-applauded.
The Ghost of Christmas Present (who looks a lot like jolly old Santa Claus) whisks Scrooge off to the merry-making going on in his neighborhood, which he all misses being cooped up in his home. The Ghost takes Scrooge to the humble home of his clerk Bob Cratchit, where poor as they are, the couple and four kids are happy as can be. This is where the adorable Tiny Tim (Gabo Tiongson), who is seriously sick, sings the sad song ‘The Beautiful Day’—one of the most applauded scene of the musical. From the Cratchit’s home, off they go to the house of Scrooge’s nephew Harry, where there is a happy get-together going on. Despite yearly invitations from Harry, Scrooge never attends his nephew’s parties.
Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come (represented by the grim reaper) appears and takes Scrooge around his neighborhood again where the vendors who owe him money appear to be very happy and thankful…to him! The ensemble is seen here singing the catchy ‘Thank You Very Much’. So proud to know that he seems to have done something wonderful to the people, Scrooge is crushed when the ghost shows him his very own grave. It becomes apparent to him that the people are rejoicing because he died.
The scenes that follow show Scrooge devastated but determined to change his scrooge ways and start anew. Faustmann renders a touching performance of the song, ‘I’ll Begin Again’. After the nightmarish visits from the three ghosts, Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning filled with hope and happiness. He sets about the day doing one good deed after another, from buying an enormous turkey for Cratchit’s family and toys for the children, to writing off the debts of the vendors. And yes, finally spending time with the only family he has left: Harry and his wife.
All is well that ends well. Scrooge mended his ways and it was a merry Christmas for everyone!
The last scene captures a picture-perfect kind of Christmas: smiling happy people rejoicing as one. Scrooge, the changed man, can be seen beaming and laughing. At this point, there is no more trace of the grumpy old man that Scrooge used to be. One can even liken him to jolly old Santa Claus. No more ‘Bah, Humbug!’; instead, it’s ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Scrooge!’
Scrooge is not the usual Christmassy presentation that people are used to seeing every Yuletide season, like in the countless Santa Claus shows around or in traditional offerings such as ‘The Nutcracker’. However, it still puts into perspective what all the Christmas rush and excitement is all about. Scrooge the Musical’s director Baby Barredo and Repertory Philippines’ artistic director, said it well in the musical’s souvenir program: “What better way to show what Christmas is, if not through the story of a miser who thought Christmas is a humbug.”
Set the mood right for Christmas, watch Scrooge the Musical!
The other cast members of Scrooge the Musical are Justine Peña as Ethel Cratchit, Ashlee Factor as Kathy, Arnel Carrion as Young Ebenezer, Noel Comia as Ebby (child Ebenezer), Steven Conde as Tom Jenkins, Alexander Cortez as Mr. Fezziwig and Sheila Francisco as Mrs. Fezziwig.
The artistic team is composed of Baby Barredo (Director), Natalie Everett (Assistant Director), Onyl Torres (Musical Director), Jamie Wilson (Technical Director) Jason Zamora (Choreographer), Miguel Faustmann (Set Designer), Valeen Vicente (Costume Designer), John Batalla (Lights Designer) and the Manila String Machine (Orchestra).
Repertory Philippines’s partners include the City of Makati, BusinessWorld, Ticketworld, Rustan’s, ACE Hardware, Philippine Ballet Theater, Raintree Restaurants: Mr. Jones, Kabila, MOMO Café and Museum as well as Art Magazine, Chihuahua Restaurant, Astroplus, AstroVision, Lane Moving and Storage, Wilson Shoes, Greenbelt, Ayala Malls and WhenInManila.
Scrooge the Musical
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