God Bless Us, Everyone

13th December 2013

Jill Glenn previews 'A Christmas Carol: The Musical'

It’s the stuff that (Christmas) dreams are made of…

Take five young people with a passion for theatre who met at school – in this case, St Clement Danes, Chorleywood – and all went on to train professionally, at LAMDA, Guildhall and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, before forming a theatre company of their own and producing a couple of moderately successful shows.. Add a classic Christmas story, adapted with music and lyrics by a brother-and-sister team for a few nights in a village hall, and put a local entrepreneur into the audience…

And there you have it. The show was 'A Christmas Carol: The Musical' and the location Chorleywood Memorial Hall; the year was 2010 and the entrepreneur was Chorleywood-based Steve Godbold, who thought that Talkwood’s take on the story of Scrooge and his encounters with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come deserved a wider audience. Steve teamed up with the company to fund their first UK tour in 2012-13. It was a huge critical success with both the public and the press, acclaimed in Bridlington as ‘the perfect tonic for a bleak winter night’, in Scarborough as ‘instantly immersive’ and in Watford as ‘a real sizzler of a show’.

A lesser company – or a less ambitious company – might have stopped there, patted themselves on the back, applied the same treatment to another iconic tale and developed a formula that they could have rolled out easily year after year, one new story after another. But Steve and Talkwood – writers Joshua Sills and Stephen Leask, composer Patrick Rufey, lyricist Jessica Rufey and producer Tom Barton – had other ideas, and Steve agreed with them. “Audiences love this show,” says Steve. “I knew it deserved to be an even bigger hit.”

Although Steve’s business interests lie predominantly in the insurance, software and property sectors, he’s long been a keen supporter of the arts and has, in fact, a decent tenor voice of his own. “I am totally convinced about the quality of this show,” he says. “It is an emotional roller coaster and a perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit.’

Emboldened by last year’s reaction to 'A Christmas Carol: The Musical' and by the interest generated at theatres around the country, this year Steve came on board as Executive Producer (“So what does an Executive Producer do then? Mainly, I worry…”) as Talkwood embarked on a much larger tour. Since November the show, newly cast with both established West End performers and exciting young talent, has been playing some seriously large venues, including the Halifax Victoria Theatre, which seats 1,500, the 1,400-seater Bournemouth Pavilion and the 1,200-seater Kings Theatre in Southsea. It’s culminating in a three-week run at London’s Charing Cross Theatre, over Christmas and New Year, with a special Christmas Eve concert performance at Watford Colosseum. There’s talk of a full West End run in 2014.

“This is a hugely exciting time for us…” says Josh Sills, Artistic Director of Talkwood Productions and Director of 'A Christmas Carol'. “Seeing our adaptation grow and evolve over the last few years, and now, thanks to Steve’s support, being able to present it on a national scale…” It’s a pretty good position for a show that began its life in the Memorial Hall.

See www.achristmascarolthemusical.co.uk for further info.
To buy tickets for the Watford Colosseum performance, see www.watfordcolosseum.co.uk or call 0845 075 3993.
To buy tickets for the run at Charing Cross Theatre, see www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk or call 08444 930 650.

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