Estella Scrooge Review – A New View of an Old Tale

ESTELLA SCROOGE Poster - Courtesy of WitzEnd Theatricals
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Everyone knows that you can’t get enough of Ebenezer Scrooge, that delightfully misanthropic man of “Bah Humbug” fame. Especially around the holidays. It took Dickens less than two months to pen the holiday favorite, and yet the classic remains the perfect holiday treat over a hundred years later. Few will dispute that – whether in Charles Dickens’ Victorian age or in today’s modern era – “A Christmas Carol” has become the go-to favorite of every seeker of holiday cheer. But how many of you have heard of Estella Scrooge, the great-great-great- granddaughter of that celebrated miser? ESTELLA SCROOGE offers you the chance to meet more of the Scrooge family. Originally developed and work-shopped at the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura, California, the musical was later filmed on location at the Milliron Studios in Harlem, New York, and is now streamed for audiences everywhere.

Clifton Duncan and Betsy Wolfe – Photo courtesy of Tyler Milliron

ESTELLA SCROOGE was conceived by Tony and Olivier award-winner John Caird and Tony award nominee Paul Gordon, who together have created a modern musical twist on the 1843 novella. Today’s iconic Scrooge is a beautiful woman who just happens to be a Wall Street tycoon. She is the CEO of Bleak House, a banking conglomerate which specializes in making money – lots of money – even if it means that mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcies occur all too frequently. After all, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs – and Estella (Betsy Wolfe) seems to have become Bleak House’s master chef. Faithfully following behind Estella every step of the way is her trusty assistant Betty Crachit (Megan McGinnis), mother of the critically ill Tiny Tammy (Willow McCarthy), whose medical insurance coverage through Bleak House costs almost nothing and offers less.

Megan McGinnis and Willow McCarthy – Photo courtesy of WitzEnd Theatricals

It is Christmas Eve, and Estella has flown to Pickford, Ohio, the small Midwest town where she was raised. To visit family? Of course not. Estella is looking forward to delivering the news that she is foreclosing on the Harthouse Hotel in order to raze it so that she can build a mall in its place. The hotel is owned and managed by Philip (Pip) Nickleby (Clifton Duncan), who has filled the place with the poor, old, infirm, and abandoned – their last refuge from a world that has rejected them. Imagine her surprise when she discovers that she and Pip knew each other as children. But sentiments have no place in business, and Estella knows that she must proceed with her plan.

Carolee Carmello – Photo courtesy of WitzEnd Theatricals

However, when she tries to leave, a blizzard has closed all roads; and Estella is forced to remain at Harthouse Hotel for the night – in the haunted honeymoon suite. We all know about her visitors: angry, unfulfilled spinster Aunt Marla Havisham (Carolee Carmello) who raised her – and three spirits of Christmas past, present, and future who offer her glimpses of what was, what is, and what will be. Sissy Jupe (Sarah Litzsinger), cockney to the core, takes her on a journey down memory lane, while Ebenezer himself (Danny Burstein) gives her a fly-on-the-wall view of life around her. Finally Mr. Melchisedech Merdle (Patrick Page), another successful tycoon now doomed to wander the earth since he died, introduces her to what happens to people like them at the end of their lives.

Patrick Page – Photo courtesy of WitzEnd Theatricals

We all know how the tale ends – but it is still fun to see Estella Scrooge become a new woman, a woman who loses no opportunity to shout her new-found love for everyone and everything about Christmas. Skillfully directed by John Caird, who wears two hats in this production, with the invaluable assistance of Brad Hack, music supervisor and arranger, ESTELLA SCROOGE is a charming, delightful, and entertaining story perfect for the holiday season. It is witty and clever – integrating names, plot lines, and details from many of Dickens famous writings into this adaptation. The cast sings its heart out – and sometimes dances besides. Filmed before a green screen, the production team expertly uses modern technology and contemporary music and lyrics to enhance this nineteenth century narrative and bring it into the twenty-first century. For a preview, check out the trailer.

Laura Patton as Dawkins – Photo courtesy of WitzEnd Theatricals

To add the cherry on top of this superb pandemic production, the producers of ESTELLA SCROOGE created a Theatre Affiliate program in which over 50 theaters across the U.S. receive 30 percent of sales of tickets with no risk or cost to the organization. Forced to shut down for over a year, the pandemic has weighed heavily on theaters everywhere, and ESTELLA SCROOGE will help them pay the bills and flourish. To that end, the producers encourage audience members to purchase access to ESTELLA SCROOGE through their local theater company. Tickets are $29.99 for 72-hour viewing for each household, or $44.99 for a VIP Premium Theatre Experience, which includes unlimited viewings, a download of the cast recording, and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. To purchase tickets through the affiliate program, go to the theater websites or visit www.estellascrooge.com/affiliate. For more information about ESTELLA SCROOGE, go online.

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