Little Miss Scrooge, a Dickensian Musical Mashup, Dawns in CA Concert; Amanda McBroom, Jeff Edgerton, Sarah Litzsinger Star
By Kenneth Jones
Librettist-director John Caird and composer-lyricist-librettist Paul Gordon, who created the musicals Daddy Long Legs and Jane Eyre, are together again for Little Miss Scrooge, a new yule-flavored musical mashup of characters and stories by Charles Dickens. A concert version that prefigures a 2013 full staging begins performances in California on Dec. 12.
Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura, CA, gives the developing show a staged concert production through Dec. 23. The collaborators — including co-director/co-librettist Sam Caird — anticipate a full production in 2013, Gordon told Playbill.com. Sam Caird is a Dickens scholar and son of John Caird, who is best known for co-direction of Les Misérables and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. The Cairds and songwriter Gordon all share libretto credit on this.
The California cast includes Rebecca Ann Johnson as Estella Scrooge, Amanda McBroom as Molly/Marla Havisham, Sarah Litzsinger as Betty Cratchit/Mercy Pecksniff/Sissy Jupe, Alexandra Frohlinger as Jenny Trent, Juliette Goglia as Charity Pecksniff/Tiny Tammy, Stuart Ambrose as Philip Nickleby, Daniel Stewart as Smike, James O'Neil as Jaggers, Richard Gould as Dedlock/Ebenezer Scrooge, Richard Gould as Merdle (replacing the previously announced Ted Neeley) and Jeff Edgerton as Paul Dombey/Bob Cratchit, with ensemble members Alyson Lindsay and Elliott Graber.
Gordon told Playbill.com, "In December of 2010 John and I had seen one of the regional Christmas musicals (that will remain nameless) and we both felt there was a need for a different kind of holiday show. We wanted to do something contemporary — that was both for kids and adults as well. We felt strongly about the message of 'A Christmas Carol' but didn't want to do the same version that's been done a thousand times. Somewhere along the way I had come up with the idea for the mash-up: changing genders, combing characters and using the plots of several Dickens novels and weaving them together. Dickens' message of social reform applies to the world of today as vividly as it did in the 19th century.
"I had written the first draft and created the score and then John came aboard and brought in his son, Sam, who is a Dickensian scholar, and they were able to take what I had done and greatly improve upon it by adding wonderful detail and weaving in more of the 'Great Expectations' story, giving the piece a greater depth and resonance."
Gordon added that producers Karyl Lynn Burns and Michael Jackowitz, who helped launch Daddy Long Legs, "were excited by the idea and have made it possible for us to do this staged concert version for the Rubicon Theatre. The first full production will be next year, venue to be announced. This staged concert will allow us to see what work is yet to be done, but we are exited to share it with audiences for the first time."
What are the "new" characters like? Gordon said, "Estella Scrooge, who is both Estella from 'Great Expectations' and Ebenezer from 'A Christmas Carol,' is a young, cold and beautiful Wall Street executive who, on Christmas Eve, decides to take a trip to Pickwick, Ohio, to shut down the Harthouse Hotel, a refuge for the down and out, run by Phillip 'Pip' Nickelby. A snow storm ensues and Estella is forced to stay in the hotel for the night where she is first visited by Miss Marla, who is both Marley from 'A Christmas Carol' and Miss Havisham from 'Great Expectations' — who warns her of other ghosts yet to come. Little Miss Scrooge is both a morality tale and a love story with a contemporary score."
Brad Haak is music supervisor and orchestrator.
Rubicon Theatre Company presents the Little Miss Scrooge concert production in association with Broadway Across America, Sandra and Jordan Laby, Loretta and Mike Merewether, Sue and Simon Ruddick and executive producer Michael Jackowitz.
For more information, visit rubicontheatre.org.
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