A Christmas Carol at Park Street Performing Arts Centre

The delightful adaptation of arguably the best Christmas story has landed at Park Street Arts Centre.

This magical musical adaptation has all the Christmas heartwarming you could ever wish for, while staying loyal in parts to the classic Charles Dickens story, but gives a real treatment, with a different type of fun.

The constraints of quite a small stage are cast aside in thrilling style as the skillfully constructed set is used to its full advantage.

The masterful Richard Green plays the part of the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge with genuine aplomb, and his direction of the whole piece is a joy to behold.

Callum Mathers is also in top form as the downtrodden Bob Cratchit, and the whole cast communicate a real sense of togetherness throughout the very character driven show.

Gina Garton is very strong at setting certain scenes for the audience, and the scenes between her and character and Scrooge are genuine dynamite.

It’s a well known saying in theatre that you should ‘Never work with children’ but the supremely talented bunch in this gutsy production discard that saying with a real swagger and ability that looks boundless.

The musical numbers are scattered through the feast before your eyes, all perfectly timed and moving the story along beautifully, with a great dollop of realism.

With several actors and actresses playing more than one part, it would be easy for them to get a bit lost, but that doesn’t happen here, it all moves along almost serenely.

Keiran Danby is very genuinely scary as Jacob Marley, and the use of atmospheric smoke and the right choice of background sound, provides a tremendously eerie experience when it’s required.

The alternate scenes that have been inserted into the script are also masterfully handled.

Speaking to Richard Green afterwards, he said: “I think A Christmas Carol is one of those plays, that really sum up Christmas, it’s got such a good moral behind it.”

Speaking about playing the lead, and directing it as well: “It is a challenge definitely, especially when I’m standing on the stage, seeing what’s going on.

“Obviously I’m not supposed to be seen by them, so I can’t intervene, I just have to stand and watch.

“Apart from directing it, I’m also playing the lead, and it’s a very big part so it’s a lot to learn, sustaining the character, that’s quite a hard job.”

Callum Mathers also spoke to me about playing Bob Cratchit: “It’s a bit of a character role, he’s a family man, which is something new for me. Also a bit of a cockney accent is a challenge but it’s nice to try that.”

Being on stage with the director quite a lot actually brings some comfort: “It’s pretty comfortable actually sometimes.

“He’s been acting for many years, and directing shows, that gives you confidence in him, that if something does go wrong, you can work together with him and bring it through.”

Being on stage with several children: “It’s stressful at times, but it’s great fun because they’re so full of energy… You’re sort of mentoring them, helping them through it.”

Turning A Christmas Carol into something of a musical has its advantages: “It’s maybe a bit of a gamble, I think it brings a bit more enjoyment as well.

“I haven’t really done a lot of play work, musicals are mainly my thing, so I feel a bit more at home doing musicals, but I think it is a bit of a gamble.

“But I think the audience get a bit more enjoyment out of it, with a few songs in there, you maybe get them to join in a little bit.”

Tickets are still available for the performances which run all week, up to and including Christmas Eve afternoon, although there are only EIGHT tickets left available for the Christmas Eve showing.

Tickets can be booked over the phone on 01482 222452, priced at £6-£8.

Go and see it, you’ll love it to bits.

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The Difference in Hull FC For 2016

After two pre season games, one for a mostly youth team and one for the first team, Hull FC fans are understandably excited having seen them rack up an impressive 106 points in what were, after all, first hit-outs for the two contrasting teams employed against dual reg partners Doncaster and deadly local rivals Hull KR, but what exactly is different with the black and white’s compared to previous years?

The answer would appear to be, and genuinely is, quite simple because suddenly Lee Radford’s men have gone from a largely defensive unit that could be as miserly as Ebenezer Scrooge himself, to being an effervescent, exciting attacking side who have the players to cause mayhem in any defence in Super League.

Obviously the main evidence of this was in the Clive Sullivan Memorial Trophy match against their nearest and dearest at the KC Stadium, but looking at the game at Doncaster there was also much that showed a new attacking fluency in the Airlie Birds ranks, not the least of which was the hat-trick of young winger Callum Lancaster.

Concentrating however on the derby match, what seemed to strike most people was Hull’s enthusiasm going forward. The defence was still strong until the last few minutes, but Hull now appear to have put a threateningly organised attack along with it.

Last year the Airlie Birds were 2nd in the league for clean breaks, unfortunately their major failing was an inability to back those breaks up and turn them into tries, against the Robins however that was a problem that was ruthlessly put to bed as a rampant new-look Hull put them to the sword.

As the breaks kept coming so did the support play and, most importantly, the tries with destructive power, pace, imagination and guile all very much on display in a performance which belied the fact that it was the first hit out for most of them this year.

With a pack that carries genuine grunt, strength, power and considerable ball-handling skill as displayed already, a half-back pairing with handling, kicking and running ability, a back five with pace to burn, support play and try-scoring ability and all armed with a supporting cast of hungry and massively talented youth, it’s a combination that must have Lee Radford rubbing his hands with glee

A pack including the likes of Frank Pritchard, Gareth Ellis, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Liam Watts, Scott Taylor, Jordan Thompson, Jordan Abdull, Danny Houghton, Josh Bowden and Chris Green, backed up by Jansin Turgut, Richard Whiting, Jack Downs, Brad Fash, Masimbaashe Matongo and Danny Washbrook will be the main part of any success the black and white’s have this year.

But just as important as that frightening pack will be the likes of Jamie Shaul, Carlos Tuimavave, Fetuli Talanoa, Mahe Fonua, Steve Michaels, Jack Logan, Lee Smith, Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd who will have to take advantage of the holes that will be punched in several defensive lines throughout the season and being very ably backed up by Reece Dean, Callum Lancaster and Harry Tyson-Wilson etc.

With a squad like that 2016 could just be the year the transition comes to fruition.