Review: “Scrooge in Love!” in Napa

Movies and television have long been a haven for sequels and spin-offs. Live theatre? Not so much. Which is why it’s interesting that North Bay theatres have programmed three such shows for the holiday season. Marin Theatre Company is presenting the latest installment of Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s Christmas at Pemberley extensions of Pride and Prejudice and College of Marin has the holiday version of Nunsense running in its Studio Theater.

Napa’s Lucky Penny Productions has the most traditional of the lot with their presentation of Scrooge in Love!, a terrifically entertaining musical continuation of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. San Francisco’s 42nd Street Moon first presented it in 2015 and again in 2016, so it’s a bit of a coup for the folks at Lucky Penny to bring this show to the North Bay for only its third incarnation. Original director Dyan McBride returns to helm this remounting.

F. James Raasch, Brian Watson, Brian Herndon, Scottie Woodard, Andrea Dennison-Laufer

The story begins exactly one year from Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmas Eve redemption. To his dismay, Scrooge (a perfectly cast Brian Herndon) finds himself once more in the company of his ex-partner Jacob Marley (Brian Watson.) It seems that Marley and his associated Christmas ghosts (Andrea Dennison-Laufer, Scottie Woodard, F. James Raasch) aren’t satisfied with Scrooge finding the Christmas spirit – he has to find love.

Jenny Veilleux, Brian Herndon

And so, the tale of Scrooge and Belle (a charming and steadfast Jenny Veilleux) is told via trips back to the past and into the future with a very amusing stop in the present.

Duane Poole’s book cleverly revisits all the Dickens characters including the Cratchits (Sean O’Brien, Heather Buck) with Tiny Tim (Hudson Pickett), and the Fezziwigs (Tim Setzer, Jennifer Brookman). We see Young Scrooge (Ryan Hook) blunder his way through a failed courtship and we see old Scrooge continue that blundering in the present. Be assured, however, that the show won’t end without a Christmas miracle.

The score, with music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Kellen Blair, is nicely executed by music director Craig Burdette and a small three-piece combo. It runs from the giddy “I Love Love” that’s boisterously delivered by the Ghost of Christmas Past to the contemplative and melancholy “A Kitchen Built for Twenty (with a table set for one)” delivered by Scrooge, and there’s a heaping helping of the festive delivered by the entire cast.

Herndon gives a stellar performance as Scrooge and his central performance is complimented well by the entire cast. The Ghosts, in particular, are great fun with Watson an imposing but humorous Marley, Dennison-Laufer an operatic hoot as Christmas Past, and Woodard’s Christmas Present looking and acting like he’s popping by after a long night at a SoHo club. Even F. James Raasch’s gloomy Ghost of Christmas Future gets in some mean dance moves via some clever choreography by Staci Arriaga.

No ‘bah, humbugs’ from me, as Lucky Penny’s Scrooge in Love! is the most “Christmas-y” show I’ve seen this year.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★★

‘Scrooge in Love’ plays through Dec. 16 at the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center, 1758 Industrial Way, Napa. Thursday–Saturday, 7pm; Sunday, 2pm. $20–$40. 707.266.6305.

Photos by Kurt Gonsalves

This review originally appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian.

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