With the festive season truly here and numerous doors already opened on advent calendars, it’s never been a better time to get into the Christmas spirit with a trip to see A Christmas Carol at the Lyceum Theatre on 10th and 17th December.
Telling the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge as you’ve never seen it before, London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s concert production gives this well-known tale some serious Broadway treatment, by the award-winning team of Alan Menken (Beauty And The Beast/The Little Mermaid/Aladdin), Lynn Ahrens (Anastasia/Ragtime/Seussical) and Mike Ockrent (Crazy For You/Me And My Girl).
Amongst the many West-End performers in this show (which includes Griff Rhys Jones as Ebenezer Scrooge, Miriam-Teak Lee (Hamilton) as The Ghost of Christmas Past, Rosemary Ashe (The Phantom Of The Opera) as Mrs Fezziwig, Nicolas Colicos (The Producers) as Mr Fezziwig, and many more!) is David Hunter, who is playing the lovable character Bob Cratchit.
To say it’s been a busy few weeks for David is an understatement. Fresh off releasing his own EP and going straight into rehearsals for A Christmas Carol, David was also recently cast as Dr Pomatter in the hit musical Waitress, which arrives into the West End next year.
Fresh from rehearsals, we spoke to David about A Christmas Carol, how it feels to be returning to the West End, and how he celebrated getting his role in Waitress.
How have rehearsals been?
We’ve got an incredible cast. Everyone came in on the first day and they were instantly brilliant. We’ve got the most wonderful voices and the most experienced performers, and they all came in and smashed it. We’ve been good to go since a few days into rehearsals.
What’s so unique about the London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s version of A Christmas Carol?
The really exciting thing is the orchestration of it. When we did our sitzprobe (a seated rehearsal where performers sing with the orchestra), the sound was just astonishing.
The lovely thing about this production is they’ve put the orchestra right on stage, so you can really focus in on them and see what they’re doing. I couldn’t take my eyes off the percussionist in rehearsals, she seems to do everything – she’s dashing around picking up sticks and glockenspiels and xylophones and drums, she’s like a percussion-shaped blur. It’s incredible to watch that.
A production which puts the focus on those aspects of the orchestra is quite unique and beautiful.
How would you describe your character, Bob Cratchit?
Bob is the heartbeat of the show. In amongst these crazy Dickensian characters of Scrooge, Fezziwig and the ghosts, you’ve got this hardworking, caring, loyal, friendly, kind man who’s just trying his best opposite these extraordinary characters.
Throughout my career I seem to have played those kind of characters who are faced with a more extraordinary character, whether that’s opposite Girl in Once, or Lola in Kinky Boots. I spend a lot of time keeping up with a firecracker, or in this case protecting myself against the firecracker that’s Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s the gentle, honest, human element of this extreme show.
You recently took a short break to focus on your own music. How does it feel to be back in the West End?
It’s great! I love doing both things.
The nice thing about writing and recording your own music is you have complete control. I was quite keen to put it out there and say, “this is what it is”. I wanted it to be something I loved doing and just putting it out into the world.
In my life I’ve taken over quite a few roles, so people come with an opinion of how it should be, and you feel the pressure of what the original cast did. Thousands of people have played Bob Cratchit (including Kermit the Frog!), so I’m competing with the best, and everyone will have an idea of what it should be, so it’s hard to put your own stamp on it. Whereas with your own music, it’s yours.
Getting back into the West End is joyous as well. The lovely thing about working with other people is you get that support round you, and the focus isn’t all on you. You can rely on and carry each other through the tricky parts, or when you’re doubting yourself or your music. I love being part of an ensemble, it’s a lovely thing.
You’ve had a hugely exciting time recently being cast in Waitress, how did you celebrate the news?
Me and my family went to Pizza Express, so we really know how to live it up! I’ve got two young children, so celebrations tend to be rather subdued!
I was really thrilled to get the part. The casting process is hard because you’re awaiting that news, and wondering who you’re up against, and you bump into people at the final rounds thinking “all these people are stupendously talented and any one of us could do it” and you just hope it falls your way.
It changes everything, and from January I’ll be busy with the show and enjoying it for all it is. I’m really excited about it, it’s a great show and I can’t wait to get stuck in.
How will you be celebrating Christmas?
It’ll be very family-orientated. It’s the first Christmas where my son will understand what’s going on – he’s certainly excited by Christmas trees and Father Christmas! We’ll all be together and do it all.
I also want to try Candied Yams, where you put marshmallows on top and toast them. Sounds disgusting but I’m really keen to try them!
There are only a few performances of LMTO’s A Christmas Carol, so what reasons would you give to people to come and see it?
The phenomenal cast are really exceptional, I feel so privileged to listen to them sing. The score is wonderful, and the orchestra perform it so brilliantly.
It’s going to be WICKED!
LMTO’s A Christmas Carol plays at 7.30pm on 10 and 17 December, with a matinee performance at 4pm on 17th December too. Tickets are available via the Lyceum Theatre’s website, and discount tickets are available in person at TKTS.