Scrooge gets his comeuppance… and likes it

‘A Christmas Carol’ playing through Dec. 28


The audience was grabbed when Marley’s ghost drifted down to the expansive Patchogue Theatre stage, a wild, white-haired specter, ghost-faced with red lips, warning Scrooge on Christmas Eve.

You need a brilliant imagination to create a tale, as Charles Dickens did, about a miserable, wealthy businessman forced to confront his actions, via spirits showing the impact of his life. The Gateway’s “A Christmas Carol,” the Broadway musical, has evolved this Victorian tale 10 notches with its artistry; gorgeous singing, dancing, costumes and sets. And, wow, those ghosts.

But let’s not forget the bitter rantings of our lead character, Scrooge, played by Howard Pinhasik with gravitas and a fine voice.

Suffice it to say, the entire cast—22 adults, 14 youths from Gateway’s School for the Performing Arts, and eight in the orchestra—gives the story a rousing, affectionate lift.

From the get-go, when Mr. Smythe asks for a loan because his mortgage is due, followed by employee Bob Cratchit asking for Christmas Day off, mentioning the plight of his crippled son, Tiny Tim, Scrooge digs into his incredible wretchedness.

While the whole show is a feast for the eyes, we’ll provide some of the pearls.

Marley, played by Tom Lucca, was a partner with Scrooge and just as covetous about money. His task now is to help others mend their ways, and he drifts in chains in “Link by Link,” rising up and down in the air in Scrooge’s bedroom. In a dream sequence, Scrooge is then linked himself and jerked about in aerial fashion. “You wanted to get ahead,” Marley admonishes, tossing, well, a head at Scrooge.

He lays the groundwork for the Ghosts of Christmas Past (an ebullient Morgan Billings-Smith, who convivially sits on Scrooge’s bed and shouts, “This is Your Life”), Present (Gerry McIntyre, resplendent in a green robe, holly crown and glorious voice), and Yet to Be (Saki Masuda, beautiful in graceful dancing).

“Mr. Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball,” a grand company party when Scrooge was advancing in his position, is a joy. Robert Anthony Jones is gleeful as the robust boss Fezziwig; Renee Marie Titus as Mrs. Fezziwig has a stunning voice, and the ensemble do a rat-a-tat dance that pumps your blood.

Oh ho, there’s a surprise, here. Scrooge once fell in love with Emily (Evan Bertram, whose soprano voice is gorgeous), while he was raking in the money.

“Abundance and Charity,” with the Ghost of Christmas Present and dancing grapes, pears, and apples that morph into beautiful tap-dancing girls in red sequins and guys in green sequins, is a hilarious riot.  What!? Is that Scrooge dancing?

The Gateway’s Scot Patrick Allan, director of development and public relations, also appears in the production as Mr. Smythe, who asks for help with his mortgage. (No, he doesn’t bop Scrooge.) Allan already has Broadway chops, so it isn’t surprising that he’s in fine voice.

The sets are first class, with streets of Victorian homes, their lights beaming out and smoke emerging from chimneys, and flickering lamplights.

Bennett Schneider as Tiny Tim gives a touching performance, as does Sonnie Betts as Grace Smythe and also Elliot Torbinson, who plays several roles.

There’s a poignant backstory along with thoughtful and profound scenes. At the beginning of the show, a giant ticking clock is projected—a reminder that it’s never too late to change. Or in this case, to buy tickets. It’s playing to Dec. 28 at Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. Get your tickets at Gateway’s box office in Bellport, or at


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