Scrooge is a cantankerous, miserly, mean old man.
But we love him.
Such is the spirit of Christmas and the enduring, ghostly legacy of Charles Dickens. The story Dickens wrote in 1843 haunts us to this day.
Scott H. Severance showed why on Friday night during two engaging and delightful presentations of the musical, “A Christmas Carol,” in the Savannah Center. He gave a wondrous performance as Scrooge in a show filled with music, dance, spooky moments and, in the end, redemption and transformation.
Quinn Morrison, 10, never saw “A Christmas Carol” until Friday but now she understands what the holiday fuss is all about.
“It was a little scary –especially the part with the skeleton (ghost of Christmas future) but I liked it because it was happy at the end,” Morrison said. She attended the show with her mom, Amy, and grandmother Elaine Mount, who lives in The Villages.
Severance’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge was scary, tender, nasty and nice.
“I was so impressed with him, the cast, the costumes and the sets,” Amy Morrison said.
Now, it’s all part of the holiday season for this family.
“’A Christmas Carol’” is the kind of tradition you want to share with your family and it feels good to be here,” Elaine Mount said. “Seeing it with my daughter and granddaughter is very special.”
Severance, who produced and directed the production, dominated the stage with his movements, facial contortions and roaring dialogue. The guy had old Ebenezer down pat.
First came the creepy, cheap Scrooge, torturing Bob Cratchit (Joshua Paul Moore), tormenting nephew Fred (Scott Duell) and scolding anyone who would dare touch his dough.
Severance walked the stage with a perpetual Scrooge scowl and displayed a personality as rough as sandpaper. He was oblivious to Christmas and humbug to anyone with any sign of holiday cheer.
Ah, but the ghosts would change the old man.
Watch video of the show here:
Up first was Jacob Marley, played by Josh Dennis, looking like a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and Count Dracula. Marley sported a slimy green skin color with long, stringy white hair. He was toting some chains around the stage. I kept waiting for him to belt out a chorus of “Iron Man.”
Along came the ghost of Christmas Past, Courtney Wood. She whirled and twirled around the stage like Peter Pan and started Scrooge’s amazing journey. Wood was effervescent and righteously combative with old Scrooge.
Among the highlights of Christmas Past was a bubbly comic performance by Sam St. Jean as party animal Old Fezziwig. Fiona McIntyre as Belle, Scrooge’s first love, showed up to break his heart.
Next up was Christmas Present, Scott Sweatt. He looked bejeweled with an extravagant costume that included a fur-lined robe and a red, yellow and green Christmas wreath on the top of his head. Sweatt bellowed with an echoing, hearty laugh and whisked Scrooge around the town to witness the joys of Christmas.
Joshua Paul Moore was meekly obedient as Bob Cratchit and gently toted Tiny Tim (Violet Towers) around the stage.
Near the end of Christmas Present’s stage time, Sweatt opened his robe to reveal two sickly, skeletal children; he called “Ignorance and Want.” The pair were portrayed by two puppets, cleverly designed by Penny Benson.
Finally, came the ghost of Christmas Future, again, a puppet about 12-feet high, masterly designed by Benson. The ghost towered over Scrooge as he contemplated a future of solitude and death.
Until Christmas morning, when the old man woke up a new man.
Severance played Scrooge’s holiday rebirth with joyous abandon. He did a jig on stage and even kissed his long-suffering nephew Fred on the forehead. And he also saved Tiny Tim who ran across stage during the final act.
Severance knows what Mr. Scrooge is all about.
“I wanted to make this an honest portrayal of the man,” he said after the show. “He is the way he is because of a broken heart. He had no choice, the world broke his heart.”
Scrooge’s transformation is the essence of the story.
“Christmas past shows how Scrooge’s heart was broken,” Severance said. “Christmas present shows him what’s he’s missing and Christmas future shows him what will happen if he doesn’t change.
“It’s a sad and scary story but that’s what life is all about. I think there’s a little bit of Scrooge in all of us, and he represents the best and worse in all of us.”
Dickens revealed universal meaning in this tale of an old man contemplating his life at Christmas.
“We think about all these things — the past, the people we knew, the present and the future – at Christmas. That’s why this story touches everybody.”
And God bless Mr. Dickens for reminding us what Christmas is all about.