N E MUSICALS York are to stage the York premiere of an all-singing version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from November 14 to 17.

Written by Beauty And The Beast and The Little Mermaid composer Alan Menken, with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens, the musical began life as a film before being re-created for the Broadway stage, opening at the Madison Square Garden.

"It brings A Christmas Carol bang up to date with a truly beautiful and modern score," says director Steve Tearle. "It tells the story of mean old Scrooge, played by Kevin Bowes, who has treated people badly all his life, such as his long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit (Ben Jefferson).

"The visit of the ghost of Jacob Marley (Steve Tearle) will feature Marley's gang of ghosts, played by our singing and dancing children, with a bit of a thriller twist. Scrooge will first encounter the three ghosts of Christmas in their real-world guises as a lamplighter (Emma Louise Dickinson ), a charity show barker (James O'Neil) and a blind beggar woman (Mark Simmons), before they will each show him the error of his ways."

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Dickinson) will take Scrooge on a journey into his past, visiting his mother (Perri Ann Barley). "One notable departure from Dickens's original story, in this portion of the show, is its depiction of Scrooge's father, identified as John William Scrooge, who is sentenced to a debtors' prison while his horrified wife's family look on as they sing the beautiful song God Bless Us, Everyone. This scene was inspired by an actual occurrence in Dickens's own childhood, by the way," says Steve.

"This sequence will finish with the Fezziwigs' Ball when Scrooge goes back to when he was employed by Mr and Mrs Fezziwig (Richard Rodgers and Lorraine Hodgson ), as the Ghost highlights to him how mean he was, while illuminating Scrooge's world view with a book of life.

York Press:

Steve Tearle as Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol

"Scrooge will then be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present (O'Neil), who shows Scrooge it’s good to be kind and reminds him of all the good in the world, before Scrooge is shown his future by the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come (Simmons), culminating in Scrooge's awakening in his bedroom on Christmas morning, but will he be a better person or the same old horrible man?"

Further roles in Tearle's production go to Robert Sagar as Scrooge's nephew, Fred; Jon Hind as Mr Smythe, a recently widowed client of Scrooge's lending house, and Jack Reed in his N E Musicals' debut as Bob Cratchit's son, Tiny Tim.

Commenting on how rehearsals have progressed, Steve says: "With the show now all set, we've been working on the flow, the characters and the detailing of the performance. As we're 'supporting' Dickens this year, with Oliver! already staged in April, this is a continuation of his great stories.

"As usual, we'll have our own twist on the opening, prior to the show beginning and during the opening number Jolly Good Time, when you'll be introduced to the whole company. Everyone in the cast is so important to making this story come to life; everyone has a special part to play; it's totally an ensemble show. It's an amazing start to this story but the fun has just begun."

Looking forward to the opening night of NE Musicals' festive show, Steve predicts "an amazing production". "It will be a great night at the theatre with music that will make you feel wonderful," he says. "Musical director Sam Johnson has done a brilliant job with the cast on this all-singing version of this fantastic story, where we'll have 61 people on stage to bring the magic alive in this family show with great special effects and some brilliant surprises and performances."

Performances start at 7.30pm plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Tickets for "a show that you will never forget" are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.