LHMTC Press Archive

Christmas Show - 'A Christmas Carol'

N.O.D.A. (East) Review
by Stephen Hayter - Region 4 Representative



Les Miles

Tim Rock

Laura Farr. Michaela Dawe

Script and Lyric by Les Miles and Music and Orchestration by Tim Rock

It would be a lie if I said that after an intense three week period of reviewing shows I wasn’t a little tired, and yet thanks to the incredibly high quality of some of the productions I had seen, I had come through the Grand Tour of 4 North, incredibly inspired. Last (but by no means least) on the list was the Lavender Hill Mob Theatre Company with their production of ‘A Christmas Carol’, which I was looking forward to more than usual having missed their Pantomime (in April I hasten to add) . I handed that assignment over to friend Anthony Maley who still hasn’t emotionally recovered from the experience.

Now here, we are going to take a slightly different turn from the usual review I would write for this incredibly worthy, inclusive group. The reason? The many and various special needs of the cast play no part in this piece of writing…. because this show needs no justification, and stands up completely on its own. In short, this was the best Lavender Hill Mob production I have seen, with the best direction, best music and the best performances, and I simply could not speak coherently for about two hours after its completion.

The story is, in my opinion, the best Charles Dickens and probably the best story by anyone, ever written (run close by Treasure Island, which is my favourite). If you can sit through it without crying and ultimately being inspired, you are already dead! I will not waste time by retelling it, as I suspect that anyone reading this will be familiar with the plot …..if not, you are already dead!

As I took my seat … as far back as I could get at the Corn Exchange, I was already starting to feel a little Christmassy. I know how big LHMTC shows are, so I wanted to see everything -  which you can only do from row S or beyond, so it was my choice and it proved to be a good decision. The set was grand with spectacular backdrops that completely filled the back of the stage. The complimentary scenery and props were kept to a minimum to allow the vast number of performers enough room to move and lighting and sound (Tim Rock) were bang on the money as usual.

The Chorus were well-rehearsed, enthusiastic and very well organised with perfect costumes throughout. Although I try to mention everyone in a cast, on this occasion there simply isn’t enough ink in my printer to even begin to print all their names, so just accept that everyone was fantastic with no … and I really do mean NO !weak links. The supporting cast were equally as good with nice work from George Templeman, Josh Large and Tom Bains as the three Gentlemen; Matthew Smedmor as Nephew Fred; Sophia Dawson, Bronwyn Dawe, Alana Gemmell, Megan Matthews and Rebecca Bush as the Cratchit children with special mention for Ellie-Mae Smith as a wonderful Tiny Tim. Although I never saw his face the programme reliably informed me that Dean Somerville was in the excellent Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come costume who also did a first rate job.

In the more prominent parts I was extremely impressed by Carl Smith as Bob Cratchit, Zoe Adams as Jacob Marley with superb characterisations from David Howard as The Ghost of Christmas Present and Michael Miles as Mr Fezziwig who was a good as I have ever seen him! Poppy Gilding never fails to impress me and as The Spirit of Christmas she turned in another cracking performance helping to move the story along and never letting the pace drop. I also must congratulate superb Vicky Reed as Mrs Cratchit, who made me laugh out loud every time she shouted “You’re late!” A wonderful performance with a confident delivery of every line. Last in this paragraph, but by absolutely no means last overall, was the universally incredible Ford Bailey who always blows me away. This time he turned in his finest ever characterisation with a breath-taking interpretation of The Ghost of Christmas Past that left me in tears!

In a production of this quality it is not usually easy to select one performer for penultimate paragraph honours but it was not a problem this night. The outstanding James Hohol stole the show completely with a near professional standard delivery as everyone’s favourite Christmas villain, Ebenezer Scrooge. His physical performance matched his vocal excellence as he worked tirelessly to deliver the take home role of the night.

This was a truly humbling experience with direction of a standard I have not seen from this group before. Sincere congratulation to Artistic Director, Les Miles and to Musical Director, Tim Rock for more top-notch original music, delivered by a cast that revelled in every second they were on stage. I had done two shows in a day, and I was exhausted, but after a matinee earlier in the day the Lavender Hill Mob looked more than capable of two more shows before bedtime. Well done to everyone involved for making  me cry, and for making my Christmas!

Stephen P. E. Hayter