The ghost of an English author passed haunts North Bay theaters this holiday season with a couple of Charles Dickens-inspired productions running on local stages. Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse presents the musical Scrooge in Love! through Dec. 19.
It’s Christmas Eve again and Ebenezer Scrooge (Brian Herndon) has spent the past year living a wonderful, generous life after being shown the error of his miserly ways. As he preps for a good night’s sleep, Scrooge is once more interrupted by his chain-laden ex-partner Jacob Marley (Peter Downey) and the three seasonal spirits (Madison Scarbrough, Ezra Hernandez, Stefan Wenger).
It seems their mission of redemption is not complete until Scrooge is reunited with his long-lost love Belle (Alanna Weatherby), so a return trip to the past and another venture into the future is undertaken to deliver the ultimate Christmas present.
Brian Herndon is a solid Scrooge, having essayed the role before. Weatherby is appropriately steadfast as the long, supposedly-lost Belle. Downey makes for an imposing Marley, though I wish his entrances and exits were as dramatic as his makeup and costume. Director Jared Sakren has him appear in just a burp of fog, though this may be a COVID-related adjustment.
There’s a strong supporting cast with good voices at work here. Hernandez makes for a boisterous Christmas Present ghost, and Scarbrough gets quite the vocal workout as the ghost of Christmas past. Wenger does double duty as Christmas yet to come and as Dick Wilkins, the young Scrooge’s rival for Belle’s affection.
Danny Bañales and Caitlin Strom-Martin bring sugar and spice to the Cratchits. Noah Sternhill does well as a younger, more sympathetic Scrooge. The younger members of the cast acquit themselves quite nicely as various Cratchits and street urchins. Keep your eye on Tyler Ono, who displays a talent and stage presence of which other local directors should take note.
First produced in 2015, Scrooge in Love! is a throwback to old-school musicals with just a tab bit of self-awareness added for good measure. The book by Duane Poole and songs by Larry Grossman and Kellen Blair all honor the spirit of the Dickens original, though its subject matter and appeal is decidedly more adult-oriented.
It’s a nice companion piece to the umpteen film or television versions of A Christmas Carol you’ll be inundated with this season.
‘Scrooge in Love!’ runs through December 19 in the GK Hardt Theatre at 6th Street Playhouse. 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa. Fri. & Sat., 7:30pm; Sat. & Sun., 2pm. $22-$38. 707.523.4185. 6thstreeetplayhouse.com
Proof of vaccination and masking are required to attend.
Photos by Eric Chazankin
This review originally appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian and Pacific Sun.