Review: A Christmas Carol at Springwell Community College, Staveley

A Christmas Carol performed by Staveley Community College
A Christmas Carol performed by Staveley Community College

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…..

Lights twinkling on fir trees, shoppers snapping up festive treasures and tat, greeting cards dropping through the letter box.

All these are mere decorations for the true meaning of Christmas as students of Springwell Community College, Middlecroft, Staveley, are reminding us this week.

Acts of kindness, forgiveness and charity are the keynotes of Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol which a 40-strong cast is magically bringing to life.

This powerful combination of drama, dance and song reflects the talents of the students, under the guiding light of directors Cuan Jacques and Gill Leake and choreographer Caroline Hoyle.

The first of three consecutive public performance last night (Tuesday, December 9) went like a dream, with the minimum amount of prompting for the actors and the maximum amount of pleasure for the audience.

Joshua Poole gives an outstanding characterisation of Ebenezer Scrooge, playing the miserly boss with just the right amount of scowling, sneering and dismissiveness. Scrooge is transformed into a frightened old man who is forced to confront his demons when he’s visited by the spirit of his old workmate Jacob Marley (a terrific performance by booming-voiced Cameron Waddoups) who unleashes the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Marley’s arrival is heralded by a spooky, white-masked troupe of dancers whose ankles and wrists are bound together by elasticated strips which don’t limit their dazzling display of choreography.

Alysia Bradley shines as the ghost of Christmas Present, Rebecca and Melissa Vernon share the honours as the ghost of Christmas Past and Luke Sibert characterises the spirit of Christmas Future as a silent, scythe-carrying grim reaper.

A big shout-out for Bailey Wright who steps into the breach to play Tiny Tim, after originally-cast Liam Harris had to pull out due to illness. Bailey tugs at the heart-strings in his role as the limping, crippled son of Bob Cratchitt, praying for the gift of love at Christmas while spoilt children are demanding expensive toys.

Callum Smith engenders sympathy from his audience in his characterisation as Tim’s kindly workaholic dad, Bob Cratchit, put upon by his employer Scrooge and the target of ear-bashing from his wife, played by Rhiannon Murphy.

A lovely rendition of the song When The Love is Gone from Elizabeth Unwin playing the younger Scrooge’s girlfriend Belle is matched by Sophie Littlewood’s performance of Joy To The World in her role as the engaging, delightful Mrs Fezziwig.

The carols,festive music and fall of fake snow create a warm glow in contrast to the bleak, dark, elements of the story.

Simply staged, the eye is initially drawn to a projected image of a street scene in Victorian London, followed by images of Scrooge’s bedroom, his nephew’s luxurious dining room and the Cratchits’ humble home. The seating of the audience around three sides of the performance space enables viewers to be drawn into the multi-layered story.

God bless ‘em all at Springwell college, every one of them. They couldn’t have given us a better show in the run-up to Christmas.