Magical production of classic Dickens tale

Derby Theatre has earned a fine reputation over the past five years or so for its festive family fare.

The likes of Charlotte’s Web, The BFG and Horrible Christmas have all proved impressive - and popular with audiences - so the bar has been set high for the latest offering - A Christmas Carol.

And I’m glad to say that this magical adaptation by Neil Duffield of the classic Charles Dickens story, is another triumph for Derby Theatre.

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With its festive setting, and a quartet of ghostly visitors to conjure up, A Christmas Carol has all the ingredients that must have directors rubbing their hands in anticipation.

In charge for this production is Derby Theatre’s artistic director Sarah Brigham and she scores a bullseye again.

Continuing the trend at theatres in recent times for casting multi-taskers, the eight-strong adult actors - backed up by some talented local youngsters - also show off their instrumental and singing skills, something that adds immeasurably to the overall success of the production.

Holding it all together is Jim Barclay as Ebenezer Scrooge. In Barclay’s portrayal, Scrooge is a little bit on the miserable side, rather than being genuinely misanthropic, so his transformation in the final quarter of the play is all the more believable.

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He is supported well by the rest of the ensemble cast, including Christopher Price, who does well in diverse parts such as Marley’s Ghost, Mr Fezziwig and the Ghost Of Christmas Present, and Adam Horvath, effective as Scrooge’s almost saintly nephew Fred.

Hats off too for Neil Duffield, who adapts the story very impressively, keeping all the key points intact while adding a few touches of his own, plus musical director and arranger Adam Howell.

His arrangements of some of the more interesting festive tunes for the cast to sing and play are among the highlights of the night.

This is a production where all the constituent parts - acting, singing, instrumental playing, lighting, sound and set design - always a highlight at Derby Theatre - come together in perfect harmony to create a magical experience for all ages.

A Christmas Carol is at Derby Theatre until January 4. Don’t miss it.

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