After preview performances in St. Louis and Santa Clarita, “A Jazzy Christmas Carol” had its world premiere tonight at St. Barnabas Eagle Rock — and the classic Anglican formula of ancient and modern came quickly to mind. Produced by the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija of TryTank, the show twins the 1935 film “Scrooge,” one of the first talkie versions of the Dickens classic, starring Seymour Hicks as the old humbug, with original music by the Owen Ragland Quartet, all the way from St. Louis. As in silent movie days, these brilliant players lay down a brand new soundtrack for the film, with selections of Christmas-themed jazz before and after.
Tickets are still available for the shows on Saturday, Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. and Christmas Eve at 2 p.m. Order yours here. Plenty of restorative beverages, including non-alcoholic choices, are available before the show and at intermission. It’s the latest event brought to you by the St. Be’s priest in charge and Harmony Room impresario, the Rev. Canon Jaime Edwards-Acton, who has offered an astonishing 120 live shows in the last two and a half years.
This Depression-era “Carol” leaves Marley’s ghost to Scrooge’s imagination (we hear but do not see it) and is not interested in chalking up his miserliness to family of origin issues. The ghost of Christmas past takes us not to his lonely school days but straight to his counting house, where he forecloses on a struggling young couple and is spurned by his fiancée as a result.
In an ironic flourish by director Harry Edwards, we then see a lavish, although non-canonical, dinner in the Lord Mayor’s house, where people stand and sing “God Save The Queen” (with Owen Ragland and the guys accompanying them). An aide says to the mayor, “Would you like your guests to continue to enjoy themselves, or would you like to give your speech?” Dickens would probably have liked the line. I’ll remember it the next time I’m asked to give brief remarks so I will be sure to put the stress on the brief.