Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (2022)
Director (and co-writer): Stephen Donnelly
Voice cast: Luke Evans, Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Fra Fee, Giles Terera, Trevor Dion Nicholas, James Cosmo, Jonathan Pryce
A supernatural, time-travelling, musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’s cult Christmas story – IMDB
A Christmas Carol has been remade so many times at this point that whether you have read this classic novel from Charles Dickens before or not, its an extremely familiar story of a horrible man who has three ghosts to visit him in one night to reflect on his future, see the present and what his future will be if he keeps his ways. Even over here we have reviewed a good few versions despite never having read the source material.
Netflix’s version Scrooge: A Christmas Carol takes this Charles Dickens’ classic and pairs it with the 1970 Leslie Bricusse’s screenplay for musical film adaptation Scrooge and packs it with a decent voice cast. Having not seen the 1970 version, this Scrooge doesn’t offer anything too different. Instead, a lot of parts actually reminded me of Mickey’s Christmas Carol (which I watch almost on an annual basis). The animation is pretty decent especially for its design for the Ghost of Christmas Past which is a good reinterpretation of the character.
Turning A Christmas Carol into a musical is a good idea. Its rhythmic and adds some pep to this rather serious story. The singing is pretty on point and it helps that the voice cast is pretty decent with Luke Evans as Scrooge. Luke Evans has a voice that matches Scrooge very well and delivers the needed tone for the cranky money-obsessed man. Much like Olivia Colman as Ghost of Christmas Past which is a real joy and has some of the best lines in the film. However, as fun as some parts are, the songs are decent but not quite catchy enough. There are probably two songs that stand out like the first one with the nephew singing called I Love Christmas which sets up the stage perfectly and then Thank You Very Much which was a lot of fun in context.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical (2022)
Director: Matthew Warchus
Cast: Alisha Weir, Emma Thompson, Lashana Lynch, Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough, Sindhu Vee, Carl Spencer, Lauren Alexandra
An adaptation of the Tony and Olivier award-winning musical. Matilda tells the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a sharp mind and a vivid imagination, dares to take a stand to change her story with miraculous results. – IMDB
My only venture into Matilda is surprisingly only the 90s adaptation and that was actually pretty recent years. Matilda is based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name except this one is based on the musical adaptation. There’s so much to love about this version of Matilda. Its definitely a musical done right as most of the songs and dance choreography are very good. As I did a little research, these songs are all from the stage musical. Its a fun venture into this world.
The cast of Matilda unsurprisingly consists mostly of children and these young actors are quite good overall. There’s a focus on Matilda and a few of her classmates but also some of the older kids as well. Alisha Weir as Matilda is quite fitting as she nails both the singing and attitude of her character. The cast of kids around do put together some fun moments whether in their musical number or their scene. Around them are five adults in the cast with them. The most notable is Emma Thompson who has been transformed into the harsh headmistress of Crunchem Hall Trunchbull. Emma Thompson is starting to pop up frequently in these unexpected roles and in this one, she is nearly unrecognizable. While opposite her is Matilda’s teacher Miss Honey played by Lashana Lynch who does a pretty good job at the meek role. Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough has Matilda’s parents are actually quite funny and is an exaggerated version of crooked parents especially with their facial expressions. While not a big role, the most fun is probably the traveling librarian played by Sindhu Vee who always listens to her and her stories with fascination.
Matilda has a lot of heart and most of it is because the fun in the story is its naivety. The kids talk about telekinesis (or should I say as one of the kids in the film calls it telekinepsis) and even in their times of oppression and bullying from their headmistress, they still find a way to work together to revolt in their small little way and find their small victories. Throwing lizards in her cup or mixing care products together or gluing a hat to someone’s head: its all seemingly harmless actions. The songs in the musical also reflect this quite a bit since the highlights are definitely the ones with the kids like Alisha Weir’s solo with “Naughty” which ends up being a song that hangs in the air being reprised in different parts. Of course, the dance choreography of Revolting Children has its own hook which is commended on its complexity since it is for kids (and as my husband has told me has struck a TikTok revolution of people using that scene with all sorts of background songs).
At this point, Netflix has released a few musicals. While some of been star-studded like The Prom (review) and a few Christmas ones like Jingle Jangle (review), they have all been rather lackluster (yes, I haven’t seen Tick Tick Boom yet). Matilda the Musical is fun and charming and does so much right. The singing is great, the songs and choreography are creative and catchy and the cast ensemble does a fantastic job. Musicals should make us not only love the story no matter how familiar but also has the songs stuck in our heads and Matilda’s soundtrack has been hanging in my head for quite a while. Its been a long time since I’ve had this feeling and boy, does it feel good.