PBOL'S THEATER WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 20-26: Bye, Bye, "Bah" Show

News   PBOL'S THEATER WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 20-26: Bye, Bye, "Bah" Show
For a while there, it looked to become as permanent a theatrical fixture as Cameron Mackintosh, but the crew behind the annual rite at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, the musical A Christmas Carol, decided to call it quits in 2003 after ten years and several hundred showers of confetti.

The show has always held a rather peculiar place in the New York theatrical universe. Not a Broadway production, though it had Broadway production values, and definitely not an Off-Broadway venture (in size, tone, or any aspect), it seemed more like the kind of stage entertainment one might find in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, or possibly at one of our nation's larger theme parks. Yet, the show was without a doubt the product of a Grade A team of theatre professionals: composer Alan Menken, lyricist Lynn Ahrens, director Mike Ockrent and choreographer Susan Stroman.

A Christmas Carol began life in 1994 with an unprepossessing Scrooge, the respected journeyman Walter Charles. Thereafter, it depended on the name value of an established star. The talent pool the producers fished from was deep and wide, to say the least. Scrooges came from the worlds of theatre, film, television and even rock music. There were Oscar winners (F. Murray Abraham), Tony winners (Frank Langella, Hal Linden, Roddy McDowell, this year's Jim Dale), Emmy winners (Tony Randall, McDowell), two British actors (Tim Curry, Dale), a couple steady Broadway stars (Terrance Mann, Tony Roberts) and, or course, the lead singer of The Who, Roger Daltry.

A lot has happened since the show premiered. Creator Ockrent did not survive to see its finale; he died in 1999. Stroman, his widow, and a rising choreographer at the time, has gone on to become one of the commanding forces in Broadway musical theatre. Ahrens went on to write Ragtime, Seussical and A Man of No Importance with partner Stephen Flaherty. And Menken has enjoyed numerous successes on stage and on screen.

Of its closing, a spokesperson for the musical said the producers wanted to end the tradition on a high note.

May the new year begin on a high note for them and everyone else, on and off the stage.

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