Author: Pranathi Durgempudi

Scrooge gets a show tunes makeover in “A Broadway Christmas Carol”

Featuring parodies of dozens of famous show tunes from musicals like “Phantom of the Opera,” “Annie” and “Chicago,” Charles Dickens’ holiday classic gets a makeover in “A Broadway Christmas Carol” this November and December. A completely transformed Ebenezer Scrooge sings hits from the Great White Way and dances time steps in a production that breathes new life and joy into the beloved story.

Director of the production and professor of theatre Bud Coleman drew inspiration from a unique source. “From burlesques that were popular in the 19th century to parodies, satires and spoofs in our own time, musicals like ‘A Broadway Christmas Carol’ revel in that uniquely American trait of gently mocking cherished ideals and institutions.”

Everything—from the music and choreography to the scenic design and costumes—reflects the one-of-a-kind musical that Coleman hopes to bring back to the stage since it first premiered at CU Boulder seven years ago.

“This production is almost like a ‘Broadway’s Greatest Hits’ album!” says student Kyle Lawrence, who will be playing the role of Scrooge. “It’s such a hoot to count up my coins and then break out into a rendition of ‘We’re in the Money’ from ‘42nd Street,’ or tell off the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present through the song ‘Defying Gravity’ from ‘Wicked.’”

Complementing the show tunes, Coleman has worked with choreographer Melissa Zaremba to incorporate dance numbers inspired by the work of icon Bob Fosse. “I hope audiences will enjoy seeing Tiny Tim, Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig and Scrooge himself in a new, musical and Fosse-filled world,” Coleman explains.

Pairing this style of choreography with hit show tunes has proven to be an exciting challenge for the cast. “It’s been so much fun getting to sing and dance in such a wide variety of songs that you would never find all in the same show … until now!” Lawrence says.

This wacky production will be set to a beautiful backdrop and illustrated with delightful costumes. “I have absolutely loved looking through the different designs that we have planned for the set and costumes,” Lawrence explains. “The production team has been working on this show for countless hours now, and it truly shows.”

Coleman is proud of the student performers cast in this production. “At auditions, musical director Adam Ewing, choreographer Melissa Zaremba and I were so impressed with the amazingly talented students who sang, danced and read for us. I’m so excited to work with this fabulous ‘dream team’ of 15 CU Boulder students—they truly are the stars of tomorrow,” Coleman explains.

“Playing Scrooge has been an absolute blast,” Lawrence says. “I have loved getting to explore the development of the character as his heart changes throughout the show.”

But Scrooge might not look exactly as you remember him. “In this adaptation, we’ve gone with a Scrooge who isn’t the stereotypical hobbling old man, but rather a relatively younger man, around his 60s. He’s more of a menacing presence. I’m able to bring a greater contrast to his attitude at the end,” Lawrence says.

Even so, Scrooge still needs help finding his path back to happiness, though he’s years younger and prone to bursting into song and dance. “A lonely, miserly man learns how to love again,” Coleman explains. “Through the visitation of the three ghosts, Scrooge remembers that he was once surrounded by the love of family, friends and co-workers, and that he can make the choice to live that way again. One of the many things I like about ‘A Broadway Christmas Carol’ is that for every banana peel moment, there is a sincere moment of emotional connection.”

Lawrence adds, “As strange as it may sound, the classic and contemporary Broadway numbers blend extremely well with the classic tale. The laughs become bigger; the drama becomes greater. It truly is a fantastic, fresh take on the story.”

“A Broadway Christmas Carol” runs Nov. 15-Dec. 8 in the University Theatre. Tickets start at $24.

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