Tis the season: A Christmas Carol at Upper Canada Playhouse

 

“Bah! Humbug! Every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!”

These snarling words of Ebenezer Scrooge set the stage, literally, for one of the most loved tales of Christmas, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Beginning on Thursday, November 28 and running until December 15, a large and wonderfully talented cast will bring the timeless story to life as Upper Canada Playhouse stages the seasonal classic for the young and the young at heart.

This visually stunning production, set on a revolving stage, and highlighted with spirited music, lively sound effects and costumes and wigs from the very streets of Victorian London will thrill playgoers. 

“It is the kind of holiday show families look for at this time of year,” said Playhouse artistic director, Donnie Bowes. “The audience will follow Scrooge on his sometimes scary, sometime joyous, but always fascinating journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas.”

At a recent press conference, Bowes commented on why the tale continues to hold such a powerful charm for audiences, nearly 200 years after it appeared. 

“When Dickens first wrote his novel in 1843, it was really a comment on the social issues of the time. In some ways, A Christmas Carol was not taken seriously. But over the decades it has gained weight. Now people look forward to it, to this traditional show that celebrates the season. We get a lot of families booking this one, and a lot of schools.”

The Playhouse adaptation features unique innovations including much music and singing and dancing. Because, as Bowes said, “it’s a ghost story at heart, this also allows special effects and original interpretations.”

To bring the some 35 separate characters in the play to life, Bowes has brought a multi-talented and energetic cast of 12 to the theatre. 

Richard Bauer will play the lead role, a part he says is a “lovely experience. I love playing Scrooge.”

Doug Tangney creates the Ghost of Christmas Past, while Bruce Tubbe portrays the Ghost of Christmas Present and Playhouse newcomer, Warren Bain, is the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Sending shivers through the audience will be Jamie Williams as the spectral Jacob Marley. Williams will also take on the role of Bob Cratchit, while Meredith Zwicker (who is also the play’s musical director) is Mrs. Cratchit.

Tubbe is also cast as the jovial Mr. Fezziwig, with Bain as nephew Fred and Young Scrooge and Ryan Jacobs as Peter Cratchit, among a variety of other roles. (“Ryan has the longest ‘track’ – most characters – in the play,” the other performers laughed.)

Jody Osmond as Belle and Jess Vandenberg, who also designed the lively choreography, fill out the cast. Joining the seasoned performers will be local actors Conor Veinotte, 12, who is appearing in every show as a fiddler, while his two younger brothers, Gavin and Liam, will alternate in the part of the beloved Tiny Tim.

This adaptation features much music and dance. 

“In this show, there are a number of songs,” said Jess Vandenberg. “Donnie made several suggestions, and then Meredith and I found other pieces  which suit the era and the mood.”

“There is only one time that Jess and I have disagreements,” Zwicker laughed. “The cast is all so talented that we fight over who plays, who sings, who dances in any given scene. We end up bartering. Donnie really gives us a lot of free rein. Oh, by the way, Jamie and Richard are keen dancers,” she added, to the amusement of the cast.

With a hard-working crew backstage (over 30 costumes and hair pieces, and a revolving set that allows for continuous action) and technical director Sean Free lighting the show, Upper Canada Playhouse’s production of A Christmas Carol will delight audiences of all ages. 

For information and tickets, contact Upper Canada Playhouse at 613-543-3713/1-877-550-3650 or uppercanadaplayhouse.com. Discounted tickets for the Nov. 29 preview available.

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