MADC goes Dickens for panto
In my humble opinion, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the best Christmas story ever told. This year, the MADC is taking this tale to another level with Scrooge – A Christmas Panto, based on the much-loved story of the crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve.
“Banish the thought that this choice is hardly material suitable for pantomime or children’s entertainment!” says director Nanette Brimmer. “As with most pantomimes, the scriptwriter only takes the skeleton of the story as a frame to build on. It is then given humorous twists relating to current events, political situations and idiosyncrasies of one’s culture. Scriptwriter Alan Montanaro has enough experience to ensure that this pantomime – which is the MADC’s 33rd – will provide the best Christmas family entertainment on the island.”
There are the three Spirits of Christmas, yes, but one of them is a peace-loving hippy chick played by Kate De Cesare. “The Ghost of Christmas Past in the MADC panto is probably the grooviest interpretation of the role ever! She’s sparkly, glitzy and glam who knocks Scrooge for six, taking him back to the most psychedelic time of his life!” she explains.
Panto veteran Alan Montanaro, who is also playing this year’s Dame, agrees that the story has all the elements for a good panto: magic, fantasy, good guys and not-so-good guys, with a strong moral message to boot:
“The biggest challenge for me was the introduction of a panto baddy, because, after all, Scrooge transforms into a good guy and we want to give the children in the audience someone to boo at right to the very end.”
This comes in the form of Scrooge’s lawyer Mach A. Villain, played by Chris Hudson who keeps urging him on to ever-nastier actions, like issuing eviction orders and taking people’s hard-earned money. He hates children – they’re so expensive.
“The other challenge,” continues Mr Montanaro, “was the introduction of a panto dame. But, without divulging too much, I think I found a way in that that works like a gem. This year’s dame is great fun and I have a hunch that she will become one of my more memorable ones. I think Dickens would approve of what we’ve come up with,” he says with a laugh.
Colin Willis, who’s the cantankerous Scrooge, says he is really enjoying his part. “I have to say I rather like the nasty bits and shouting ‘humbug!’ in a curmudgeonly Scrooge voice. It will be an interesting challenge to get the audience to like me as the redemption process goes on and Scrooge turns from baddie to goodie. Maybe giving out a few chocolates will seal the deal!”
The rest of the cast includes Isabel Warrington in an unusually “domestic” role as Mrs Scratchit and Colin Azzopardi in the dual roles of Bob Cratchet and Lawrence S. Dizzywig, as well as Vanessa Attard, Nathan Brimmer, Ralph Mangion, Katherine Brown, Maxine Calleja Urry, Gianella Mazzola, Faye Micallef Grimaud and the usual mega-talented all-dancing, all-singing chorus.
Set designer is Oscar-nominee Peter Howitt. Choreographer is Felix Busuttil, while Paul Abela is musical director and Ernest Camilleri is costume designer. Wigs and hair are by Michael and Guy.
Performance dates for Scrooge – A Christmas Panto at the MFCC, Ta’ Qali are December 22, 23, 26 to 30, and January 2 to 9. Shows start at 8 p.m.
There will also be matinée performances on December 26 and January 2 at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are €10, €15 and €20 with discounts for children aged 12 and under.
Booking is open online at MADC’s website www.madc.biz. Tickets may also be booked via ticket hotline 9999 6232.