Scrooge has been quite a regular visitor to the Empire, although it’s been a while since it wasn’t knocked off Chrimbo scheduling by a large-scale celeb panto. Rocking up in November always seemed a bit early; so the timing this year was perfect.
As our titular protagonist, at 74, Tommy Steele has (to use the catchphrase of a more modern day light entertainment figure) still got it, never lost it. The man is simply showbiz from those shiny teeth to his toes, and it shows. In a way, it’s just a treat to be entertained by such a wonderful old-schooler.
But this remarkable stage show (book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse) is a winner on so many levels. Its warm and cosy messages, its sweet songs, and theatricality in buckets all come together to create a really wonderful production. Frights, tricks and illusions abound as the well-worn tale of Dickens’s classic is brought to life. It is, it would seem, impossible to be cynical. It’s just good, heart-warming stuff.
As the three ghosts appeared to Scrooge, the effects and stagecraft drew gasps from the audience whether hardened critics or enchanted children. Hi-Di-Hi’s Barry Howard was unrecognisable as Jacob Marley, while James Head as the Ghost of Christmas Present stole every scene he was in. Joshua Boyd, our Tiny Tim, was cute as a button.
If you’re looking to get into the Christmas spirit Scrooge has to be the show to beat. Fun, scary, sweet and full of charm, there’s a lot more to this production than you might think.
Scrooge is on at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday December 10.