Review: A Christmas Carol at Henry Fanshawe School, Dronfield

A Christmas Carol at Henry Fanshawe School, Dronfield
A Christmas Carol at Henry Fanshawe School, Dronfield
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Few sights and sounds are more appealing than a seven-year-old boy wishing everyone a Happy Christmas - and little Alfie Cooke’s greeting is a scene-stealer.

He’s the smallest performer on stage but those two special words make a big impact on the sell-out audience at Dronfield’s Henry Fanshawe School.

His seasonal message comes in the finale of A Christmas Carol in which Alfie plays Tiny Tim alongside performers who are double his age and twice as tall.

It’s a popular choice of show across the county this year. Springwell Community College in Staveley performed A Christmas Carol last week and a professional production of Charles Dickens’ classic story is running in Derby Theatre until January 4.

This week’s production at Henry Fanshawe is directed by Jon Parker in a very different style to Springwell’s presentation. There’s more dancing, ambitious technical wizardry, a live band accompanying carol singers and a much darker setting.

Curtis Clapham is cast in the title role of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, playing the character as a man to be pitied rather than condemned for his dislike of people having fun. He spends much of the first half with the corners of his mouth turned down or cowering as ghosts emerge to show him the error of his ways. Scrooge’s transformation from grouchy penny-pincher to a jolly benefactor is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and tug at your heart-strings. Curtis certainly looked as though he was having as much fun playing the role as we had watching him at the performance last night (Wednesday, December 17).

Ela Yalcin plays the scary ghost of Scrooge’s late business partner Jacob Marley, the delayed echo on her voice booming around the room adds to the spookiness.

A more nimble set of spirits would be hard to find, particularly Amy Charles who gives an impressive dance display as The Ghost of Christmas Future in which she does much of her ballet routine en pointe.

Charlotte Matthew is a lithe, supple back-flipping The Ghost of Christmas Past while the copycat words and movements of Megan Young and Mary Saxton as The Ghosts of Christmas Present prove that the best things come in twos.

Dramatic lighting sequences and weather sound effects make this one of the most technical shows that the school has staged - but the crew rises to the challenge.

The final performance of A Christmas Carol is tonight and it’s already a sell-out.

GAY BOLTON