|A Christmas Carol: The Musical|
DVD poster for A Christmas Carol
|Based on||A Christmas Carol|
by Charles Dickens
|Written by||Lynn Ahrens|
|Directed by||Arthur Allan Seidelman|
Jesse L. Martin
Jennifer Love Hewitt
|Music by||Alan Menken|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producers||Camille Grammer|
Robert Halmi Sr.
Robert Halmi Jr.
|Running time||87 minutes|
|Production company||Hallmark Entertainment|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||November 28, 2004|
A Christmas Carol: The Musical is a 2004 American musical television film based on the 1843 novella of the same name by Charles Dickens, which also inspired a 1994 stage musical by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens.
Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman and written by Ahrens, the film stars Kelsey Grammer, Jesse L. Martin, Jane Krakowski, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Geraldine Chaplin, and Jason Alexander. The film first premiered on November 28, 2004, on the NBC television network.
On Christmas Eve in London, Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly moneylender at a counting house, does not share the merriment of Christmas. Scrooge declines an offer from recently widowed Mr. Smythe and his daughter Grace to pay for Mrs. Smythe's funeral, voicing his support for the prisons and workhouses for the poor, declining his nephew Fred's invitation to Christmas dinner, and reluctantly accepts his loyal employee Bob Cratchit's request to have Christmas Day off since there will be no business for Scrooge on the day. As Scrooge leaves for home, he encounters three individuals—a candle-lighter, a barker and an old blind woman—and declines their offers to collect money for charity. In his house, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns Scrooge to repent or be condemned in the afterlife like he was, informing him that three spirits will visit him during the night.
At one o'clock, Scrooge is visited by the fairy-like Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes him back in time to his childhood and early adult life. They visit the time when his father John William was sentenced for not paying debts, his lonely days as a boot factory worker, and then his time as an employee under Mr. Fezziwig. Fezziwig throws a Christmas party, where Scrooge befriends and is engaged to a young woman named Emily. However, the Ghost shows Scrooge how he and Marley chose money over Fezziwig and how Emily later left Scrooge after realising how hard-hearted he has become. The Ghost finally shows him when Marley dies in 1836 after overworking himself. A devastated Scrooge dismisses the Ghost as he returns to the present.
At two o'clock, Scrooge is visited by the merry Ghost of Christmas Present who shows him the joys and wonder of Christmas Day. Scrooge and the Ghost next visit Bob Cratchit's house, learning his family is content with their dinner, as Scrooge takes pity on Bob's ill son, Tiny Tim. The Ghost then comments that Tiny Tim might not survive until next Christmas. Scrooge and the Ghost visit Fred's house, where Fred hopes that someday his uncle will join them as family. The Ghost abruptly ages and shows him the evils of "Ignorance" and "Want" before he disappears and Scrooge returns to the present.
At three o'clock, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be approaches Scrooge, appearing as a tall, silent and beautiful woman under a beggar's robes. The Ghost takes Scrooge into the future. In a cemetery, Scrooge recognizes his deceased self as his housekeeper Mrs. Mopps trades his possessions to a fence named Old Joe. Scrooge then discovers Tiny Tim has died and when the Ghost points out his own grave, he decides to change his ways. Scrooge is surrounded by the Cratchits, Grace and the spirits of his mother and sister, which encourage him to feel love and compassion again. Scrooge's grave begins to crack, hinting the future already has begun to change, and Scrooge, misunderstanding this to be a sign he is doomed, tries to run as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come throws his bed curtains over him to return him to the present.
Awakening in his bedroom on Christmas Day, Scrooge decides to surprise Bob's family with a turkey dinner, and ventures out to spread happiness and joy throughout London. After paying off Mr. Smythe's debt, Scrooge once again encounters the three individuals—who are the Ghosts in their human forms—and thanks them. Scrooge goes to the Cratchit house, at first putting on a stern demeanor, and then revealing he intends to raise Bob's salary and pay off his mortgage. Scrooge then goes to Fred's house to celebrate Christmas with the neighborhood and the Cratchits, with the three spirits (in the forms of the candle-lighter, barker, and blind woman from the beginning) watching from afar.
- Kelsey Grammer as Ebenezer Scrooge
- Jane Krakowski as Ghost of Christmas Past / Lamplighter
- Jesse L. Martin as Ghost of Christmas Present / Sandwich Board Man
- Geraldine Chaplin as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be / Blind Old Hag
- Jennifer Love Hewitt as Emily
- Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley
- Edward Gower as Bob Cratchit
- Linzi Hateley as Mrs. Cratchit
- Jacob Collier (Moriarty) as Tiny Tim
- Julian Ovenden as Fred Anderson
- Julie Alannagh-Brighten as Sally Anderson
- Ruthie Henshall as Mrs. Scrooge (Scrooge's mother)
- Mike Kelly as John William Scrooge (Scrooge's father)
- Lea-Verity White as Fan Scrooge Anderson
- Sheila Reid as Mrs. Mops
- Ian McLarnon as Mr. Smythe
- Emily Deamer as Grace Smythe
- Brian Bedford as Mr. Fezziwig
- Claire Moore as Mrs. Fezziwig
- Steven Miller as Young Ebenezer Scrooge
Lyricist Lynn Ahrens wrote the teleplay, based on her and Mike Ockrent's book for the original Madison Square Garden stage musical. The score contains 22 songs, also adapted from the stage. The opening number, "Jolly Good Time", is a more jovial reworking of the first two numbers in the stage version, "The Years Are Passing By" and "Jolly, Rich, and Fat". In the next number, "Nothing to Do With Me", Scrooge first encounters the three ghosts of Christmas in their physical guises as a lamplighter (Past), a charity show barker (Present), and a blind beggar woman (Future). We also see Scrooge's long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit buying a Christmas chicken with his son Tiny Tim in the song "You Mean More to Me".
The visit of the ghost of Jacob Marley becomes a large-scale production number ("Link By Link"), featuring a half-dozen singing, dancing spirits presented with various levels of makeup and special effects. One of these ghosts in this version is known to be an old colleague of Scrooge and Marley's, Mr. Haynes, who was said to be "mean to the bone", resulting in his charred skeleton. Other puns include a headless spirit who wanted to get ahead, a man with a safe full of coins in his chest who "never had a heart" and a man carrying a box that contains his arm because he "never lent a hand".
The Ghost of Christmas Past (Jane Krakowski) sings "The Lights of Long Ago", a number reinforcing her signature theme of illuminating Scrooge's worldview. One notable departure from Dickens' novella in this portion of the film is its depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge's father, identified as John William Scrooge, being sentenced to debtors' prison while his horrified family looks on (a scene inspired by events from Dickens' own childhood).
The Ghost of Christmas Present gets two numbers, "Abundance and Charity" and "Christmas Together", in which he makes his point that Christmas is a time for celebration, generosity, and fellowship. The former takes place at a fantastical version of the charity show he was seen promoting on Christmas Eve, and the latter whisks Scrooge on a tour of London that includes the homes of his nephew Fred, his clerk Bob Cratchit, and Mr. Smythe, a recently widowed client of Scrooge's lending house.
Unlike the faceless phantom that embodies Christmas Yet to Come in most versions of A Christmas Carol (including the book), this film features a mute sorceress figure clad in white (a transmogrification of the blind hag who appears on Christmas Eve). The entire Christmas Future sequence plays out in song ("Dancing On Your Grave", "You Mean More to Me (Reprise)", and "Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today"), culminating in Scrooge's awakening in his bedroom on Christmas morning.
"What a Day, What a Sky" serves as a musical bookend to "Nothing to Do With Me", dramatizing Scrooge's new outlook as he races through the streets of London making amends. The film concludes with a reprise of "Christmas Together" featuring the entire cast.
Brian Lowry of Variety called the film "the 37th-best production of 'A Christmas Carol' [he has] ever seen, and the third-best musical version behind Albert Finney in 'Scrooge' and 'Mr. Magoo.'" Lowry had a positive opinion of the visuals and special effects but said the musical numbers "don’t quite measure up to that level." Despite his mixed feelings about the acting of Kelsey Grammer and Jason Alexander, Lowry praised the performances of Jane Krakowski and Jesse L. Martin. Paul Brownfield of the Los Angeles Times praised Grammer's performance of Scrooge, saying "Grammer's natural charisma, even while he's being mean, helps you melt into the whole thing." He also said the actors performing in period costumes gave the film "an air of silliness that [he] found enjoyable if unintended." In addition, Brownfield praised the special effects, the musical numbers and Geraldine Chaplin's acting.
- "Jacob Moriarty - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
- Lowry, Brian (November 21, 2004). "A Christmas Carol: The Musical". Variety. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
- Brownfield, Paul (November 26, 2004). "Singing the bah humbug away". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
- "A Christmas Carol: The Musical". Hallmark Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2005-12-25. Retrieved December 28, 2005.
- "Official Site of the Stage Musical". Archived from the original on 2006-11-27.
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