Scrooge | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Christmas has come early. A crackerjack Chicago cast ably directed by Bob Tomson backs up screen star Richard Chamberlain in the U.S. premiere of a stage version of Leslie Bricusse's 1970 film musical, starring Albert Finney. Here Dickens's tale of a miser's redemption is spelled out in songs that leave no subtext behind: numbers like "Thank You Very Much" raise the energy but dilute the urgency. As if conceding the ballads' melodic sterility, Chamberlain as Ebenezer speaks as much as he sings them. And though some technical tricks confirm the magic of make-believe, Scrooge only comes to life when Dickens shines through the overkill: little is left to chance, and less to the imagination. But the stirring story and its lessons make up for the unmemorable music, and it's a joy to see solid Chicago actors in a national touring show. Through 11/7: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, 312-902-1400. $23-$73.

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