A Christmas Carol at the Kings Theatre, Southsea

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SDMS are at the Kings this week with Dickens’ perennial favourite.

Sadly the programme gives no author/composer details, but I believe it’s the 1994 adaptation with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens, itself made into a 2004 TV film with Kelsey Grammer.

The songs aren’t hugely memorable but SDMS attack them with gusto.

Frustratingly poor sound quality throughout leaves huge swathes of lyrics lost – and is not helped by underscoring that oftentimes becomes overscoring, with Alan Pring’s very slick, impressive band being just too loud, drowning out dialogue and lyrics.

Onstage the show belongs – of course - to Paul Tully as Scrooge. His ringing baritone is always easy on the ear and his scenes with the supremely-watchable Matt Sackman (the Ghost of Christmas Present) are the high-spots of the show. Notable work, too from Alex Hillman.

But the children in this show do the scene-stealing. Eddie Mannings, Declan Murphy, Joe Curtis and Kharmen Ford are ones to watch in future.

The direction is lacklustre and often lacks imagination and there’s an unforgivable lack of attention to detail in the costuming (very modern skirts and a baseball-cap stand out).

But Dickens’ message remains central and joyous.