Theater review: 'A Christmas Carol' is back – and it's better than ever

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2017 11:45 PM | Updated as of Dec 15 2017 02:09 PM

MANILA – When Globe Live partnered with theater group 9 Works Theatrical last year for “A Christmas Carol,” they wanted to create a new Christmas tradition among Filipinos. 

In a speech before the show, Joe Caliro, executive producer of Globe Live, noted that Filipinos usually celebrate Christmas on the night of December 24 and on Christmas Day itself, they don’t have anything to do after getting together with relatives for lunch.

Such insight proved to be correct. Even if this holiday staple based on Charles Dickens' classic novel had been staged in Manila numerous times over the years, some 3,000 people still trooped to the Globe Iconic Theater in Bonifacio High Street to watch “A Christmas Carol” lasy year.

Buoyed by the turnout, Globe Live and 9 Works are producing the Alan Menken-Lynn Ahrens musical again.

Director Robie Guevara, however, made sure that this isn’t a mere restaging. “Only the music and lyrics are the same. About 80% has changed,” he earlier said.

Last year’s version stressed on the spectacle, with its large, three-story set that extended to the audience area and special effects. (Read our review of the 2016 staging here.)

The 2017 production of “A Christmas Carol,” which opened last week, features a far simpler set designed by Ed Lacson Jr. made more interesting with its odd angles and a large clock (with moving hands) at the center.

Choreographer PJ Rebullida also shortened the dance numbers, which tended to drag in last year’s production, but added some complicated moves and tricks to boost the excitement. This helped improve the overall pacing of the show, which last year felt overscored and stretched.

In his director’s notes, Guevara also said that they went back to Dickens’ original intent as a horror story. Guevara, however, dazzles more than spooks with nifty touches that made it seem as if Scrooge magically appears on another part of the stage in an instant. 

Despite such theatrical flourishes, this production of “A Christmas Carol” seems more heartfelt.

Miguel Faustmann returns as Scrooge but supported by a largely new cast that includes Arman Ferrer, Franco Laurel, Mitzie Lao and Laurence Mossman – all gifted with wonderful voices that sounded perfect for the season.

As with last year, the musical again ends with "snow" falling on the stage but this time the Christmas spirit is stronger than ever.

Here are some photos from this year's production of "A Christmas Carol."

Scenic designer Ed Lacson Jr. did the set for this new production. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Miguel Faustmann returns as Scrooge with new cast member Noel Rayos as the ghost of Jacob Marley. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Franco Laurel as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

A young Scrooge and a young Jacob Marley. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Laurence Mossman and Mitzie Lao. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Nico Dans as Ghost of Christmas Present haunts Scrooge. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

One of the dance numbers. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Rissey Reyes as Ghost of Christmas Future. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

The cast at curtain call. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

"A Christmas Carol" runs at the Globe Iconic Theater, Bonifacio Global City on December 14-16, 21-22 and 26-27 at 8 p.m., and December 17 and 25 at 7 p.m.