It's reasonably well-known among such people who at least tangentially follow such things that Anthony Newley partnered with Leslie Bricusse writing the scores to such musicals and movies as Stop the World, Roar of the Greasepaint, Willy Wonka, and several other shows. But what people might not be aware is that the two men teamed up again for the last thing professionally Anthony Newley ever did – though it wasn’t to write together. In the early 1990s, Anthony Newley starred in England in a stage adaptation of Bricusse’s movie musical, Scrooge.
I’ve seen the album but haven’t heard it. However, I just tracked down some things from the show on YouTube, and I'll embed a couple of them here.
This first is the full company in costume on a TV show. But it's a very odd selection for them to have chosen, especially given that you'd want to promote that Anthony Newley is starring in your musical.
In fairness, it’s one of the best songs in the show (and was, in fact, Oscar-nominated for Best Song, "Thank You Very Much") – except that he doesn’t sing in it. Or do much of anything in it. Scrooge just sort of wanders around as a vision from Christmas Yet to Come, with no one recognizing him. In the scene, Scrooge has died, and people are celebrating the fact, since they no longer have debts to pay him, though he thinks they're simply praising him. Making it all the more odd -- in the movie, Scrooge does at least have dialogue, but here he just mimes his words (unless the microphone isn't working, though some words do come through.)
Still, it’s a wonderful song and fun to Newley in character and -- even with little to do -- seeming to enjoy himself.
And this second is the other of the best songs in the show, "I'll Begin Again," when Scrooge has discovered that he's made it through the long night and has had his transformation, vowing to change. It has some new, extended lyrics that Bricusse did for the show.
A big caveat here, though: though a video, this best listened to and not watched. It’s the audio from the cast album, but the guy fellow who posted just edited totally unrelated clips to it, trying at time to almost sync up Newley's lips. It's very disorienting. What I do -- and recommend -- is let it play in the background and go to something else on my computer. Either scroll up away from the video, and click to another open tab or work on a program. Newley's performance here is quite terrific -- I'm inclined to say it trumps Albert Finney's from the movie, who acts it wonderfully, but can't sing a lick. Newley does both.
You can tell in both of these clips, especially this second, that he is clearly and joyfully playing Scrooge and not Anthony Newley. I suspect he was great in the show. It would have been wonderful to have seen.
They did a revival of the show several years later, and hopefully I get around to that, because it's fairly interesting, too, for now, here's the last teaming of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Just not writing together.
Remeber: start to play the video and scroll away and move on to something else.
Oh, okay, you deserve a bonus:
I can't embed this (the person who posted it doesn't allow it), but it's Anthony Newley on a TV show as himself, but singing a new song written for the stage version of Scrooge. "A Better Life." It's not a great song, but a good, effective one, and he does an lovely job with it. Indeed, though he's not in costume, but rather a sport coat, it's clear that he's singing it in character. There's not a Newley Quirk or mannerism in sight, but you're watching Scrooge. The song comes after the Ghost of Chistmas Yet to Come has left Scrooge alone in the graveyard, before he knows what is ahead for him. You can see it here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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