Remember Timothy Cratchit, the Tiny Tim of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? In the new musical by Allan Knee The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit, we see how time has changed Scrooge and the little boy who captured our hearts. Now nineteen, Timothy (Nathan Gardner) has grown up privileged and loved by Ebenezer (Robert Stattel). His own father Bob (Robert Meksin) dies when he is still a boy. Scrooge pays for an operation that fixes Tim’s limp but leaves him with a “dancing leg.” Tim not wanting to follow in Scrooge’s steps, heads out on his own to forge his own path. He takes up lodgings in a boarding house and meets a chambermaid named Lucy (Hanley Smith), who becomes his first at many things. Unable to find work he finally meets Grimaldi (D.C. Anderson), a harlequin actor, comedian and dancer who was the country’s most popular entertainer at the time. Grimaldi promises to make Timothy his protégé if he can achieve a series of tasks, which include reuniting the famous clown with his estranged son, Guido (Andy Ingalls). Timothy succeeds in bringing Guido home, but Guido leaves not wanting to follow in the family business and Timothy assumes the son’s role and finds his way.
The book is a little convoluted and over stuffed with songs by both Knee and Andre Catrini. There are 23 musical numbers and the show runs over two hours long. There is definitely a show here, but they need to stick to the issues, that are most important. The song “My World” is almost a replica of the Alan Menkin song “Home” from A Christmas Carol. The score like the book, hit or miss. The standouts are all the Grimaldi and Troupe songs. This cast is so talented. Bravo to John Martello, Jeff Paul, Kendall Rileigh, Virginia Roncetti and Joanie Schumacher, plus the cast mentioned earlier, you are all so versatile. D.C. Anderson, makes the most of his role and has us eating out of his hands. Hanley Smith, is the perfect good girl/seductress. Robert Stattel, breaks our hearts when he tells Tim he loves him.
Thomas Cote, Artistic Director of the Workshop Theatre, director of this piece, does wonders. He keeps this show moving and fun. I felt like I was watching The Great Race or A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit has that same madcap feel to it. The choreography by Madeline Jaye was inventive and lively. Scenic Design by Craig Napoliello, lighting by Diane Duecker and costumes by Kimberley Windbiel are all first rate. They are to be admired considering how small the space is.
If you see this show for any reason at all, it is that you will discover a break out star. Nathan Gardner is the real deal. He can act, sing, dance and makes us love him. With a young Nick Jonas look I predict this boy will be a star.
The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit : The Workshop Theater, 312 West 36th Street, 4 fl. Thurs at 7:00 PM, Fri and Sat at 8:00 PM, matinees Sat at 2:00 PM and Sun at 3:00 PM. Thru Dec. 19th.