Each year, the Christmas spirit seems to getting dimmer. The number of houses with Christmas lights strewn across their walls and gates are getting fewer, and in our street, there’s no sign of the holidays anywhere. We put up our Christmas tree and some of the decorations inside, but it’s still hard to feel the joy associated with December. If you want to feel it, I suggest one thing: watch Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical’s A Christmas Carol, the best local theatrical production I have seen… ever.
After the success of American Idiot (which I have not seen!), Globe Live is reuniting with 9WT for this Christmas classic. A Christmas Carol is based on the 1843 Charles Dickens novella, and tells the story of the bitter old miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who shuns any mention of the holiday with the now-famous phrase “Bah, humbug!” Because of his grumpiness, he is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. From them, Scrooge learns the true spirit of Christmas: giving.
It was adapted into a musical in 1994 by Tony Award nominee Mike Ockrent and Tony Award winner Lynn Ahrens, with lyrics by Ahrens and music by Alan Menken. The local production is directed by Robbie Guevara with Onyl Torres as assistant director.
The iconic role of Scrooge is portrayed by Miguel Faustmann. The role is fitting, as Faustmann cuts quite the imposing figure. I watched him direct Repertory’s Run For Your Wife, and he’s the kind of guy who knows how to get his point across. But looks can be deceiving. I interviewed him the same afternoon and thought he was a sweetheart.
He is supported by an amazing ensemble. Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical cast some of the best actors in Philippine theater, with the voices to match. It’s hard to acknowledge all 31 actors (full cast here), but together, they created a booming symphony that left me feeling #shookt. The beautiful set could barely contain the talent overflowing from the actors, four of whom have performed in the international productions of Miss Saigon (Ariel Reonal and Ela Lisondra were in the West End Revival).
The cast was joined by a 22-piece orchestra and three top Filipino choirs, making Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical’s A Christmas Carol a lavish yet elegant watch.
On top of that, the musical blew my mind away because the cast performed complex choreography while singing. Some of my favorite numbers were “Link by Link,” when Scrooge is visited by Marley; and “Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball,” when the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to his formative years. Watching the cast perform felt like watching a full-blown concert complete with bells and whistles. And yes, the cast delivered on all counts.
Even the production was breathtaking. Mio Infante created an elaborate set that faithfully copies the Victorian era of London, complemented by Martin Esteva’s atmospheric lighting. The set and costumes transport you to a bleak wintry night in Christmas 173 years ago.
Everything about the musical is perfection. Throughout the show, the quality of cast and the production reminded me of Les Miserables when it was staged in Manila. Globe Live and 9 Works obviously didn’t spare any expense in creating a world-class show that can be enjoyed by the family.
Christmas may not be the extravagant affair we are used to. It might be the political climate or the hostile environment of social media. But A Christmas Carol offers a brief escape from the world, a chance to glimpse simpler times when the holidays were something to look forward to and not treated with indifference. Come on, it’s hard not to feel the Christmas spirit when Globe Live and 9 WT made it snow on the set.
A Christmas Carol will be shown on December 3 to 4, 9 to 11 & 16 to 18, 21 & 22, 2016 at 8:00pm, and December 25, 2016 at 7:00pm, at Globe Iconic Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
For tickets, contact 586.7105, 0917.554.5560, Ticketworld at 891.9999, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.