Photo by David Cooper
A traditional part of Canadian Christmas takes to the stage at Gateway Theatre from Dec. 7 to 24 on the main stage.
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, is a mainstay of many families’ holidays.
“I think it is a Christmas story wrapped up in a ghost story, which is really unique,” says director Rachel Peake.
“There is so much there that is identifiable for us and his transition from someone who loves only money and himself, then that transforms into someone who really changes, under the spirit of Christmas. From that comes the understanding of sharing what we have: love, money, time or whatever. Those are the familiar things people will witness and that’ll have a lot of meaning to them,” she says.
With an adaptation by Belfry Theatre’s Michael Shamata and music by Joelysa Pankanea, this will be an engrossing and moving evening fit for all ages.
Peake offers promises, some surprises but delivers no spoilers: “We have a unique take on the various ghosts. We put a little bit of a new spin on them. I think that a lot of the magic is the reveal, seeing them for the first time.”
The show is in two 45-minute halves. I asked Peake how young is too young for Gateway’s A Christmas Carol?
“Any little person who can sit still for 45 minutes, I think they’re fine for it.”
When asked any other advice for wee, first-time theatre goers, Peake responded: “Remember that you can hear the people on stage and they can hear you so, for everyone in the audience and on stage to enjoy the show, we need to listen.”
As a theatre-goer, I might also add that kicking the seats may be a great way to pass the time but it bumps the people in the seat in front and makes them very cranky. That and noisy candy wrappers are great things to avoid when the play is on.
Gateway volunteers help people, little and big, who need to make a hasty exit while the show is on by quietly moving them up the stairs to the second floor exit. When they are ready to return, they might have to wait a while to get back to their seats though.
Saskatchewan-born Peake describes Gateway as a “beautiful theatre.”
Peak says: “It’s a really lovely theatre—every part of it. It’s a lovely space. There aren’t any really bad seats in the house. Even from the back row, you get a really great view.”
While not a musical, Pankanea’s music emphasizes the Christmas-time theme of this play circa 1843. Though set in England, Peake purposely chose not to employ British accents to makeA Christmas Carolmore accessible to people for whom English is not their native language, to hear the play in a dialect they are used to.
Peake says this is a play for grown-ups too, even if they don’t have a young person to bring and it’s a fine time way for grandparents to introduce theatre to their children’s children, starting a new tradition with a new generation.
Peake promises a classic redemption tale with Christmas songs, traditions and a few surprises at Gateway’sA Christmas Carol.
“Well it’s definitely a family show. It’s appropriate for people young and old, not just a kids’ show. It definitely has appeal for young people yet, it’s very much, it truly is, a show for everyone. It’s multigenerational,” says Peake.