A Christmas Carol is no doubt one of the most iconic stories through which Christmas time is set within. There have been many various re-productions and film adaptations created over the years, making it a popular favourite for people. From 18 Nov through to the 7 Jan, Leicester's Curve Theatre will be creating a new Made at Curve production of Scrooge the Musical for the entire family to enjoy. You'll be able to see Curve's Artistic Director Nikolai Foster take you on a journey through Christmas past, present and yet-to-come with a fabulous cast and creative team right behind him. 

Choreographer Stephen Mear and Children Cast of Scrooge the Musical.
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
For Leicester, it's quite an important occasion as award-winning choreographer Stephen Mear returns to his hometown to bring the musical to life with his authentic and wonderful choreography. Stephen has created himself quite the CV with such shows as Mary Poppins, Gypsy, Hello Dolly as well as over the pond with Disney's The Little Mermaid on Broadway. He's continually accredited for his contribution to shows, including two Olivier Awards and so its great news that some homegrown talent is creating work at the Curve Theatre for the first time. 

I managed to catch up with Stephen over coffee between rehearsals to chat about this exciting new production and what it feels like to be on home turf. 

Q. So tell us a little bit about this new production of a Charles Dickens classic? 
A. "It's a new version, Leslie Bricusse has been involved. He's been changing the music for us and been in constant contact with Nikolai to change it, to make it our own which is wonderful. It's fantastic that Leslie is doing that. We have a fabulous cast, Jasper Britton who is Scrooge is such a brilliant actor. There are also people within the cast that I've worked with before which is really nice".

Q. How did you research the choreographic elements of the show?
A. "I looked over all of the old productions, I've watched the film and I've just checked that period. We've changed the music as well, which brings new dance arrangements and so I'm not doing it to anyone's particular style, we've added things in. We're trying to give it something else".

Q. What styles of dance can we expect?
A. "There's a tiny bit of Tap, I couldn't resist it and it comes in the most unexpected time of the show. There's a Stompy style thing I do, there's a Ballet, and there are the obvious knees up kind of style in there too.

It's nice actually, I didn't realise how good the show was until I started working on it. I have been offered this work before and this time I thought it would be nice to do, I wanted to work with Nikolai. We've been friends for years but never worked together, I really love the way he works. He's very generous, very collaborative which I think is the main thing when you are doing a show".

Choreographer Stephen Mear (right)
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
Artistic Director Nikolai Foster and Scrooge played by Jasper Britton.
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan


Q. How long does it take for you to produce choreography for a production?
A. "When I did Top Hat it took 3 weeks in rehearsals and I was directing that as well, so that was a killer. I did 42nd Street in 5 weeks which I was directing and choreographing too. Top Hat was the hard one but I was prepared. This one when you are kind of doing things together, Nikolai giving me ideas of what he wanted to create, getting into his mind to understand what he wanted to do creatively. It wasn't until we got into rehearsals that we began producing the choreography, but I knew what I wanted to do and I had heard the music beforehand so that helps.

We're currently in the middle of Act 2 and we're onto our third week of rehearsals".

Q. Which dance, in particular, are you looking forward to coming alive in the production?
A. "I like the number December 24th as I think it's a really festive number and it's a great number. I also like Thank You Very Much but it's quite a dark number but has something interesting about it". 

Q. So you're actually from Leicester, can you tell us a little bit about that and whether you're still well connected to your hometown?
A. "I have loads of connections here because I was in the amateur productions in Loughborough, Esna and Christchurch for example. Of course, I'm still good friends with my first jazz and tap dance teacher, Dee Quemby from the Neal Academy. My family are still here too so it's nice being able to see them whilst I'm here.

It's funny because I don't remember anyone I went to school with. I didn't enjoy school, being dyslexic. I didn't enjoy school but I enjoyed dancing and so I just remember the times in the amateur productions and dance school training".

Q. What has been a challenge for you with this production?
A. "It's not a massive dance show, but I am adding more moving elements into the musical. I think because it has been done so many times before I just want to give it a new face, a fresh take on a well-known production. It's always been on my wishlist of productions to do so I'm glad I've done it".

Q. Finally, can you tell us why people should come and see Scrooge the Musical at Curve during the festive period? 
A. "It's a fabulous show, it has an outstanding cast. I didn't realise how touching the show was, it just made me go oh my lord I didn't realise it was that touching. I think because of the energy, the passion that the show has. Jasper Britton is just amazing. You don't have to tell him anything, he's just naturally talented. He's not a nasty Scrooge, you see the funny side of him. You can't help but enjoy his performance.

Some Scrooges are played where he's just nasty and you have to see that other side to him, the one that fell in love with a girl but allowed money to take over his life. Jasper portrays that really well. Nikolai has switched it up a little, Marley is played by a woman and actually its fine and works ok, it's just a different take on it".

You can watch Scrooge The Musical at Curve Theatre from 18 Nov - 07 Jan. You can book your tickets by visiting their website here

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