After a week of freezing temperatures and feeling like the sun sets at lunchtime, I found myself having a “bah humbug” attitude about the holidays. So it was fitting that, as I watched Ebenezer Scrooge mutter “Bah, Humbug” during A Christmas Carol: The Musical playing at the Arvada Center, I sympathized with the old man for the first time.
The musical begins with cranky old Scrooge begrudgingly paying his assistant, Bob Cratchit, early to care for his sick son, Tiny Tim. After trudging home, Scrooge sits down to a sad dinner alone. Then bells ring, books fall off their shelves, and the ghost of his old business partner and friend, Jacob Marley, emerges from his fireplace, wrapped in the eternal chains of despair. Marley explains to Scrooge that his only hope to avoid the same fate is to listen to three ghosts that will visit him that night. As the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and yet-to-come visit him, Scrooge learns a lesson about the true meaning of Christmas.
Dickens For the Kids
The musical takes care in keeping adults and younger audiences engaged throughout. It brings much-needed humor that the original story lacks, and is generally less scary than other versions. There are smog machines, and the ghost of Jacob Marley is a fright, but none of the elementary school-age kids in the audience were frightened. At two hours, with a 20-minute intermission, the musical moves steadily along without any slow moments.
Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Larry Cahn, a Denver resident that has appeared in Broadway shows like The Graduate, Guys and Dolls, and The Music Man. His transformation from crotchety old man to a joyful man that dances with glee by the show’s end, shows off Cahn’s acting range. While Cahn is the heart of the musical, the ghost of Christmas present, played by Zayaz Da Camara, steals the show. His larger-than-life performance is complete with a tap dance number performed by an ensemble of dancers.
Don’t Be a Scrooge
Just like in the original, the message of the musical is about transformation and redemption. Following his visits with the three ghosts, Scrooge realizes the error of his selfish ways and begins to make amends with his community. He visits the Cratchit family and excitedly gives a Christmas bonus, as well as the town’s prize chicken. The musical imparts on audiences, young and old, that the holiday season is a time for celebration and generosity toward others. It’s just the thing to get families in the holiday spirit, without being visited by three ghosts.
Need To Know: A Christmas Carol: The Musical is at the Arvada Center from November 22 through December 22, 2019. Tickets start at $53 and can be purchased online.