When presenting a show as widely known and frequently told as A Lyrical Christmas Carol, it becomes important for a production company to breathe fresh life into the show, or at least to be excellent storytellers. Pittsburgh Musical Theater did not put a modern twist on the classic story or rely on an eye-popping gimmick to make their show stand out. Instead, they told the story in the best way possible; by giving a wonderful performance.
I got to see the Holly Cast perform last week (the other cast being the Ivy one, naturally), just in time for Christmas. I had never seen the lyrical version of the show, but it turned out that this simply meant lots more song and dance. I have to say, the cast of this show is made up of very talented singers. Although sometimes it seemed like a song was inserted in a scene without much need or reason, every song was well performed. I enjoyed each song, which were mostly Christmas classics, but I especially enjoyed the dancing. Whether it was a group number with the characters waltzing around the stage or a solo ballet piece, the cast never failed to entertain during the songs. Kudos to choreographer Jerreme Rodriguez for providing a delightful show.
I was impressed that such a large cast, mostly made of children and teens, were able to be so precise and consistent. Clearly these players all have a passion for the theater, and it came through in their performances. I was also impressed at the transformation some of these young actors and actresses went through. Until the intermission when I got a chance to look at the photos of all the actors, I didn’t realize that there were only two adult actors in the cast. It was hard for me to believe that some of the characters were being played by people so young, as they really sold the ages of their characters. Most notable were Nino Masciola as Mr. Fezziwig, Matty Thornton as Fred, and Jeramie Welch as Jacob Marley, whose portrayal of the famous ghost showed a talent beyond his years.
And I must mention Scrooge himself, Brady David Patsy. The physical work he put into the character combined with his wide range of emotions made him a delight to watch in every scene. I especially enjoyed a moment of improv on his part when Brecken Farrell (hilariously playing the light-hearted Mr. Cratchit) knocked over a set piece and Patsy insisted, in character, that he set it back up before he continued with the scene.
I want to take a moment to point out that these actors and dancers all had a very small space to work with, considering the number of people that were constantly coming and going on stage. I never noticed anyone bumping into each other, and all the set changes flowed smoothly throughout the evening. This was clearly the result of a great working relationship between director Lisa Elliott, the actors, and the set crew. Despite being a small set, the scenery was exactly what you’d expect for this type of show, and the show included lots of fun atmospheric delights, such as fire effects made from lights, snow that actually fell from the ceiling, and ghostly magic like entrances through a wall.
Going along with the set dressing, the costumes for this show were phenomenal! Costume designer Annabel Lorence really know what she was doing with this show. Even down to the most minor characters, everyone was dressed in full Victorian garb. Without that visual on every character, something would definitely have been missing from the show. It was easy to feel a part of the story when you were being drawn in from all aspects of the production.
In fact, I have only one complaint at all about the show, and that is the sound levels. Clearly, there was some kind of issues with some of the microphones, but it was opening night and those things happen. Aside from some random interference from time to time, the live band often drowned out the characters. The band surely didn’t need any microphones to enhance their volume, but if that was deemed necessary the levels of the speakers should have been turned up. I often couldn’t hear the narrator at all when the band was playing behind him.
Despite the sound issues, I loved this show and had a wonderful time at it! And it was all topped off by the greatest curtain call I may have ever seen. I can’t possibly describe it in a way that does it proper justice, so I hope everyone got out to see it in person before it ended. You know it was a successful show when you find yourself acting out the curtain call song and dance with your friend days later! Congrats on the truly festive holiday show, PMT, and God bless us every one!
A Lyrical Christmas Carol has already closed, but you can check out what else Pittsburgh Musical Theater has for us this season by clicking here.