Chichester students offer the UK premiere of Christmas Carol The Concert

The University of Chichester Conservatoire teams up with US-based Great Immediately Productions to offer the UK premiere of Christmas Carol The Concert.
Christmas Carol The ConcertChristmas Carol The Concert
Christmas Carol The Concert

It plays Portsmouth Guildhall on Thursday, December 15 at 7.30pm with tickets available from the venue. It is a tour which grew out of a production of the piece at the University of Chichester last Christmas, explains tour marketing manager David Upcraft who is also playing the Ghost of Christmas Present. David is promising Charles Dickens’ beloved tale as you’ve never seen or heard it before:

“Enjoy the timeless story of Ebenezer Scrooge through glorious, memorable and irresistible songs in this instant holiday classic.

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"The conductor is James LeLean who is a teacher at the University of Chichester Conservatoire. He is a conductor and a musical director and does concerts and conducts the Spectre Orchestra. He goes out and about with the orchestra and he found this version of A Christmas Carol just because he is always looking for new music and new scores. He approached the composer who wrote it about 15 or 16 years ago and said he would like to do a production for the university.

"The composer Bob Christianson graciously said yes and so they ran with it for a project for Christmas last year at the university. It was very well received but without much warning at all along came the composer Bob to see it in Chichester. He adored it. He loved what James had done with it and how he had produced it and how he had presented it and he said he would love to see it done again but this time not just at the university but on a tour out and about.

"He put his own money into it. Great Immediately Productions is his own production company in the States, and the university agreed to put some funds into it as well and it was handed over to James and James set up the tour. The piece is entirely scored from start to finish. It is more akin to a musical than a play. If you have seen the Les Mis anniversary concert then you will get a sense of it. We've got the orchestra on stage and we've got a principal cast. We've got a narrator who tells the story and then we have got the main characters, a 13-strong principal cast who act out the piece. And then we have got a 30-strong ensemble. There is a rousing core ensemble that fill out these songs beautifully.”

As for the music itself, it's more at the classical end of the spectrum, David says: “There is quite a dramatic feel to it but the music just screams Christmas. It has got the real feel of Christmas right the way through. It is not modern by any sense. It's very traditional music and it brings you a great sense of a Victorian Christmas. It's a very dramatic musical. The orchestra take up a large part of the stage and the actors appear in front of them. We have not got sets as such but we have got bits and pieces of props and set dressing that come on.

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“This is the UK premiere and I'm the marketing manager. I came in at the last minute having worked with James a couple of times but I'm also the Ghost of Christmas Present. For me that's a really interesting part of the narrative.”