Reviews are in for Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol at the Southbank Centre in London
In this reimagined version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, Ebenezer Scrooge is cast as the owner of a mining company town in 1930s East Tennessee. Set against the backdrop of the smokey mountains, this musical adaptation brings a unique twist to the timeless story.
Dolly’s Smoky Mountain features a book by David H. Bell, with music and lyrics by the Queen of Country herself, Dolly Parton. Paul T. Couch and Curt Wollan also contribute to the adaptation.
Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Toast) stars as Scrooge, alongside Halle Brown, Iona Fraser, Richard J Hunt, Vicki Lee Taylor, Olivier Award winner George Maguire, Ediz Mahmut, Sarah O’Connor, Christopher Parkinson, Minal Patel, Annie Southall, Carole Stennett, Danny Whitehead and Mitchell Zhangazha.
Daniel Lee, Alexander Quinlan and Samuel Sturge share the role of Tiny Tim. Also in the children’s cast are Elliot Marsden, George Menezes Cutts and Dereke Oladele.
Read a round-up of reviews for Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol below.
Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol – A New Musical runs until 8 January 2023 at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol reviews
"A marvellously musical, disarmingly sincere take on Dickens"
"Cold Feet alumnus Robert Bathurst is an iron-fisted Scrooge in Parton's homespun, soulful interpretation of the famous novella"
"Dolly Parton herself does not appear, but her spirit thoroughly pervades this unexpectedly charming new southern-fried take on Dickens. "
"there’s a disarming sincerity to the whole venture. When it’s the straight-talking Dolly sharing her belief in spiritual, not just material, wealth, you’re inclined to buy it. This is a Christmas Carol with a whole lotta soul."
"The queen of country’s Jesus-y take on Dickens is fun but not the total blast we might have hoped for"
"Salvation aside, this is a fun and tuneful night out. As a version of ‘A Christmas Carol’, though, it lacks the requisite killer instinct."
"It’s not entirely the adaptation, which is by David H Bell and others, with songs by Parton. The Queen Elizabeth Hall isn’t a great space for theatre, and the rather fiddly-dressed static set doesn’t help much. The cast are generally excellent"
"This is very much Dolly Does Dickens. It’s country music, not carols,"
"Parton, who writes the songs, and her co-adapters, David H Bell, Paul T Couch and Curt Wollan, tweak the details but retain the sentimental sweep of the original."
"It’s a convivial show which earned a hearty ovation at the end from my crowd."
"This may not be a ravishing reinvention, but it’s a very pleasant evening."
"Carried with glee and gusto"
"There are great numbers here, from the revivalist Hell to the sweetly simple Three Candles."
"I’m pretty sure this imperfect tryout will be further refined into a greater triumph. Our heroine’s history of conquering new realms suggests it will be so. Hello Dolly: welcome back to the world of musicals."
"Parton’s music is as warming as ever but a snowfall of schmaltz and minimal menace make this Dickens adaptation sickly sweet"
" the show’s all-American schmaltz brings a flatness and there is a decidedly sleepy book by David H Bell, which comes with far-fetched Tennessee idioms in which characters are “angrier than a wet rooster” and “madder than a mule chewing a bumblebee”."
"Sugary Christmas treat"
"Cornball musical strictly for the sentimental"
"Bathurst is no singer, so it’s a relief that he only has to attempt it once, at his final transformation. Otherwise, there are some gorgeous chorales and misty-eyed duets."
"It’s all so winsome it might give you toothache, but if you like your Christmas treats sugary, it’ll slip down as easily as a cup of cocoa."
"Tennessee-based Dickens retelling is heavy on the cheese"
"Among the small company, George Maguire is a stand-out, as both a shaking Cratchit and the damned ghost of Jacob Marley"
"In the strongest songs (“Appalachian Snowfall”, “Down Home Country Christmas”), you can imagine Dolly herself is singing, with Sarah O’Connor serving as a perfect stand-in, from the cadence of her voice to her perky-as-a-daffodil mannerisms."
"The country music legend’s take on Dickens will well and truly warm your heart, even if there aren’t enough rhinestone"
"Fittingly, Robert Bathurst’s turn as Scrooge is more curmudgeon-next-door than evil arch-capitalist: he lacks the kind of villainous menace that would make his ultimate redemption truly heartwarming. But believe me, your heart will be well and truly warmed by Parton’s songs, which are gorgeous: bluegrassy, packed with complex harmonies, and showcasing the talents of an ensemble that have been picked for their voices"
"Yee-ha! it’s a very dolly Christmas for Scrooge"
"Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol is everything you’d expect: a bright and breezy, double D-cup, Country & Western Charles Dickens mash-up. Or if you prefer, Dolly’s new musical whacks Robert Bathurst’s Scrooge on the backside with a banjo and puts the yee-ha into humbug."
"... the show’s greatest assets are Dolly’s music and lyrics (sadly not the star in person), played on folk instruments including banjo, violin, washboard and triple-thwacked double bass."
"Squeezed onto the shallow stage of this concert venue like an excitable church choir in the village hall, it majors on God-lovin’ atmosphere rather than special effects. And in that department it’s in line with Dickens’s Christmas message of hearty good cheer."
"It is, unsurprisingly, the songs that drive the story, many of which are gorgeous."
"This is not a version that will challenge either Jack Thorne’s beautiful adaptation at the Old Vic or Simon Russell Beale’s touching performance at the Bridge Theatre for depth of psychological understanding."
"But there are some smart ideas in this adaptation "