Theatre ‘scrooges’ with a classic

Ryan Gladstone has written and directs Monster Theatre’s A Christmas Carol to be staged for two shows at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre on Sunday, Dec. 9. - Courtesy of Monster Theatre
Ryan Gladstone has written and directs Monster Theatre’s A Christmas Carol to be staged for two shows at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre on Sunday, Dec. 9.
— image credit: Courtesy of Monster Theatre

Those who know Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol — and that’s just about everyone — are about to get a brand new interpretation of the beloved story.

Monster Theatre (The Shakespeare Show, Mini Masterpieces) has “scrooged” with the classic Christmas tale to give it new life, as audiences will see when the play comes to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Dec. 9 as part of the centre’s kids series.

Based on Dickens’ 1843 novella, the story still tells of a mean-spirited, miserly old man, whose ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation occurs after some supernatural visits.

However, in addition to telling the familiar story people know and love, the production is about a theatre company scrambling to assemble a cast for their opening night.

“This A Christmas Carol honours Dickens’ original work, but adds a layer of comedy, heart, and spectacle that you wouldn’t usually get in a traditional staging,” said Monster Theatre’s artistic producer and actress Tara Travis.

Two actors portray more than 50 characters in this re-telling of the story, which also features puppets, songs, dance numbers and flying ghosts.

The retelling begins with the opening night performance of the classic tale, but due to the impossible demands being made on them, all the actors have quit just prior to the first performance — all except one, that is.

Not wanting to refund the tickets for a sold-out opening night, the curmudgeonly producer declares that the show must go on. The lone remaining cast member, not wanting to disappoint the throngs of children with their moms and dads who have filled the theatre, agrees to help out. Together, they take to the stage and perform the entire play themselves.

“We love the play within the play,”  said Travis. “Yes, it’s the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey through time to see the error of his ways, but it’s also about the theatre company putting on the show.”

Monster Theatre’s enthusiasm and commitment to presenting classic stories to young audiences shines through in this production.

“Each member of our company has a really special memory of the first time we experienced the wonder of a live production,” said Travis. “Those experiences shaped all of our lives, and it feels so good to think that we may be having the same impact on our young audience members.”

Filled with cheerful humour and  holiday cheer, A Christmas Carol will delight audiences of all ages, and will even provide a few willing audience members an opportunity to star in the show.

“Come with an open mind and an open heart. Bring your friends and family. This show is for everyone,” said Travis. “There’s so much silly humour and ridiculous fun in the show, but ultimately, like Dickens’ original A Christmas Carol, it’s about treating people well and sharing in the true meaning of Christmas.”

A Christmas Carol stages at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre on Dec. 9 at 2 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $12 (all seats, with discounts for subscription holders) available at the Ticket Seller in the VPAC box office. Call 250-549-7469 or order online at www.ticketseller.ca.


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