Nyack's Neil Berg helps continue 'A Christmas Carol' at WBTPublished: Monday, December 7, 2015
If you ever wondered what happened to Tiny Tim Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge following the end of “A Christmas Carol,” Westchester Broadway Theatre has the answer with “Tim and Scrooge.”
“It is an absolutely charming, lovely, heartwarming sequel to Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’” says Nyack’s Neil Berg, the show’s composer, who describes the production’s music as having a “kind of Disney meets Rodgers and Hammerstein feel to it.”
The musical, which Berg says made its debut about 15 years ago at Nyack’s Elmwood Playhouse, is being billed as “A Carol for a Later Christmas” and will be presented at the Elmsford dinner theater for a limited run through Dec. 27.
"It's what happens when Tiny Tim grows up," Berg says of the show, which follows the now-20-year-old Cratchit as he's about to graduate from university.
After transforming from his original miserly personality, a now-deceased Scrooge has bequeathed control of the Scrooge & Marley Counting House to Cratchit. More interested in being a school teacher than a money manager, Cratchit signs away control of the business to a pair of unscrupulous businessmen, a move that threatens Cratchit's relationship with his family and prompts intervention from a spectral Scrooge.
"Scrooge comes back as the ghost this time to try to sort out this dilemma," Berg says.
Calling the original text "the most recognizable Christmas story ever written," Berg admits that tackling such a beloved property could be tricky, but cites the success of shows like "Wicked" as proof that audiences are willing to further explore their most beloved franchises.
He calls the process "a daunting, intimidating but extraordinarily rewarding task to take on something like this." Berg was hesitant to use the word "contemporary" in describing the production, but says that it will resonate with modern audiences while still adhering to the original story's timeless themes.
"We are very true to the Dickensian nature of the piece," he says. "So it’s contemporary in the sense that 'A Christmas Carol' at Madison Square Garden was contemporary, but it’s certainly not anachronistic to the time. It’s very faithful."
Working on productions so close to his home makes Berg “extraordinarily thrilled,” he says, and he's been telling his local connections that they have "no excuse" to miss the show since it's so close to home.
A literature major in college, Berg says "A Christmas Carol" is "a perfectly written story, which is why going back is a daunting task when you talk about a sequel.
"We just wanted to show our love for this incredible story. The most rewarding comments we’ve gotten are that we've done an extraordinary job being faithful to Dickens: 'If there’s ever going to be a sequel written, you guys have found the right way and the right story to tell.' That means everything to us."
BERG SPREADS MORE HOLIDAY CHEER
It’s not just “Tim and Scrooge” that will allow Berg to bring the holiday spirit to the Elmsford venue.
“Neil Berg’s Broadway Holiday,” an offshoot of "Neil Berg's 100 Years of Broadway," will be presented for two shows on Dec. 14. The production will have Broadway veterans performing classics from the Great White Way, in addition to beloved holiday tunes.
"It gives us a chance to really celebrate the holidays," Berg says of the concert. "Every performer gets to sing one of their favorite holiday songs, which is great because it personalizes it, but also audiences are going to get to hear them sing their hit Broadway songs as well."
Tickets for the 11:15 a.m. matinee of "Neil Berg's Broadway Holiday" have already sold out, but seats remain for the 6:15 p.m. production.
IF YOU GO
Showtimes and ticket prices vary. A ticket purchase will also get you bread, a salad, choice of entrée and a dessert. Visit broadwaytheatre.com or call 914-592-2222 for tickets or more information. Westchester Broadway Theatre is at 1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford.