Snape: Behind the scenes of the Co-op Juniors Christmas Spectacular

The Co-op Juniors 2013 Christmas Spectacular, A Christmas Carol. Pictures: Mike Kwasniak

The Co-op Juniors 2013 Christmas Spectacular, A Christmas Carol. Pictures: Mike Kwasniak - Credit: Archant

“Keeping faithful to the original Dickens story is important,” says Richard Rumbellow, playing Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the latest Christmas Spectacular from the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company. “We’ve taken some liberties and I don’t suppose Mr Dickens ever imagined his book as a musical. But if The Muppets can do it, I’m sure audience will have fun with our version.”

The Co-op Juniors 2013 Christmas Spectacular, A Christmas Carol. Pictures: Mike Kwasniak

The Co-op Juniors 2013 Christmas Spectacular, A Christmas Carol. Pictures: Mike Kwasniak - Credit: Archant

With a flying phantom appearing magically over the stage and a seven metre high Christmas tree that transforms into a time-travelling grandfather clock in Scrooge’s bedroom, Snape Maltings Concert Hall will be a guaranteed bah humbug free zone from tonight.

Inspired by the classic Dickens novel, the new show features familiar characters Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley and a gallery of ghosts in the form of Christmas past, present and future.

“We’ve taken a fresh look at the story,” says musical director Nigel Virley, who has also written the script.

“We add our unique blend of song and dance numbers interwoven with the traditional Dickens tale. It’s many people’s favourite Christmas story, with strong characters and Scrooge’s journey from miser to becoming the life and soul of the party. There’s a humorous side to Scrooge too, which is perfect for our style of show.”

“It’s great to play Scrooge again,” said Richard, who first created the role at the Ipswich Regent in 1997, in a break from rehearsal this week.

“Like him, I’ve been given a second chance, so I’d better get it right. My top hat feels like an old friend. I wasn’t so so sure about my night-gown, though. I asked them to make me a new one.”

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Also returning to parts they played in 1997 are Tony Gomez as Scrooge’s business partner Jacob Marley, Louise Godbold as Mrs Cratchit and Kerry Sayer as Mrs Dilber.

With hundreds of colourful costumes and an ambitious two-level set, the show - boasting a cast of almost 100 this year - has found a regular audience for the last eight years at Snape Maltings.

Co-director Jeannie Ingram says: “Coming up with something fresh and innovative every year is important, so we added a storyline in recent years to reinvent the show.”

“There are moments of real stage magic,” reveals co-director Pauline Walker. “The story moves so quickly from place to place the cast hardly have time to catch breath as the scenes change before the audience’s eyes with some ingenious stage design.”

A Christmas Carol, the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company’s Christmas Spectacular, runs to December 22 at Snape Maltings Concert Hall. For performance times and a video preview video visit www.coopjuniors.co.uk. For tickets, call the box office on 01728 687110 or visit www.aldeburgh.co.uk/spectacular

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