Performances for Alan Menken/Lynn Ahrens' A Christmas Carol -- launched in 1994, revived in `95 and now back in `96 -- have begun at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden (formerly known as "The Paramount") in New York City. The revival runs to Jan. 5, 1997.
The production features Tony Randall as Ebenezer Scrooge and Ben Vereen as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Randall, known to TV viewers as Felix in "The Odd Couple," recently played that role on stage in London. He is artistic director of National Actors Theatre on Broadway and appeared as an understudy for the ailing George C. Scott in NAT's revival of Inherit the Wind, spring 1996.
Ben Vereen will repeat his Carol role as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Vereen won the 1973 Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical for creating the role of the Leading Player in Pippin. He also originated the role of Judas in the Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Matthew Hoffman, who plays Scrooge at age 12, told Playbill On-Line the experience has been amazing. "At the first performance, I'd be distributing candy at the end of the show, and there was no one in an entire section. Now I sometimes look out, and there are 5,600 people out there!" Hoffman said his favorite song -- aside from the ballad he gets to sing himself -- is the joyful finale.
A Christmas Carol will give 90 performances. Tickets cost $19 to $59, depending on day at location. For information: (212) 465-MSG1. Both Menken and Ahrens have major new productions this season. The world premiere of Menken's King David (with lyrics by Tim Rice) will reopen the refurbished New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street, May 20, 1997. Ahrens wrote lyrics for Ragtime which opened in December in Toronto. The musical, with music by Stephen Flaherty and book by Terrence McNally, is scheduled to open on Broadway in 1997. Ahrens also wrote lyrics for Lucky Stiff, My Favorite Year, Once on This Island and Schoolhouse Rock.
For tickets and information on A Christmas Carol, call (212) 307 4111.