“I think people are really going to enjoy this show,” says Upper Canada Playhouse artistic director Donnie Bowes of Everything I Love About Christmas by Robert More which opens this week.
“I went to Toronto six weeks ago and auditioned some people out of theatre school who have been trained in singing and dancing,” says Bowes. “So we have a wide variety of talent and experience and 10 people on stage singing, dancing and acting. They are all multi-talented and our audiences are really going to enjoy this.”
“I am really thrilled at the way things are going. Everything I Love About Christmas is a brand new show. It’s never been done before, and we have been working on it as we go. I want a show that appeals to kids and adults alike, and I think this is really going to work.”
“We’ve been adding festive music because we have found that music really appeals to everyone at this time of the year. So there is music throughout the show, although it is not a musical.”
Everything I Love About Christmas has everything that makes a good show–a good story, some great mystery, exciting magical moments, everyday ordinary characters, magical extraordinary characters, a snow storm, a Christmas tree and lots of wonderful live singing and dancing.
The story revolves around the Barnes family who are preparing for Christmas Day when everyone is around the tree. Alas, it might not happen this Christmas since their older daughter, Susan, is stuck at a bus station in the middle of a snow storm.
Enter a team of mischievous elves, merry old Santa, a visit from a less fortunate family who live down the road and a witty and wise grandad and you have a mix of Yuletide characters to spin a holiday tale that’ll make you feel warm all over.
“We have some familiar faces,” says Bowes. “Of course we have Doug Tangney who is playing Grandpa Barnes. He’s a real character.”
“On top of that we have four elves, which I call the four stooges, who dive in and try to fix things. There are a lot of physical antics.”
“Everything I Love About Christmas has all that going for it and I think people are really going to enjoy this.”
Doug Tangney is joined by Meredith Zwicker as mother, Maggie Barnes, and Jeff Mulrooney as dad, Ted Barnes.
Zwicker has been seen in the last three Christmas shows, not only as an actress, but as musical director and pianist. She creates the wonderful harmonies and exciting piano accompaniment that help to make the shows truly memorable.
Mulrooney was last seen on the Playhouse stage five years ago in Too Many Cooks.
Also returning to The Playhouse is Parris Greaves who appeared in another past holiday hit, The Christmas Express. He plays the Head Elf in this year’s show and does an Elvis rendition of Blue Christmas.
Bruce Tubbe, who was last seen in the 2001 production of The Wild Guys, returns to play neighbour Brad Brannigan and also plays an impish Elf who sings All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.
Schools will remember Ryan Jacobs and Jody Osmond who were Charlotte and Avery in The Playhouse School touring production of Charlotte’s Web in 2011. They play Billie Brannigan and Gracie Barnes respectively.
New comers to Playhouse audiences are Jess Vandenberg who plays Betsy Brannigan and also choreographs the show’s musical numbers, Clayton Labbe, who plays Robbie Barnes and Katie Edwards playing older sister Susan Barnes.
Vandenberg recently appeared in Cabaret at Brampton’s Rose Theatre, while Edwards was seen in the Ross Petty Panto The Wizard of Oz in Toronto and Labbe has recently completed a tour of Back In ’59 with Meredith Zwicker.
“Everything I Love About Christmas is a really good story,” says Bowes. “We are doing a revolving stage which the kids really love, the adults too for that matter, and there are some visual effects that will be really nice.”
Tickets are really moving and Bowes is advising anyone who wants to take in this year’s Playhouse Christmas Show not to delay. “We are 80 per cent booked now, and for our summer shows, if we are at 75 per cent at this time, we usually end up topping well over 90 per cent.”
“This is a good festive time for everybody, and maybe there will be a surprise visit from someone we all know,” suggests Bowes with a twinkle in his eye.
Everything I Love About Christmas runs November 23-December 16 with 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. public performances and 11 a.m. school shows. For tickets contact the The Playhouse at 613-543-3713/1-877-550-3650 or www.uppercanadaplayhouse.com.