A modern, family-friendly take on a holiday classic is coming to the Harbour City Theatre.
From Nov. 22 to Dec. 15 the Harbour City Theatre Alliance and Schmooze Productions are presenting an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol by local playwright Jim Maher.
Maher and his family recently returned to Nanaimo after spending that last few years in Edmonton. There, Maher worked at the city’s Citadel Theatre, which staged a popular annual production of A Christmas Carol that Maher said drew families from across the province.
“It was one of those shows that families didn’t go to any other shows all year long, but A Christmas Carol is the one show they went to every year,” Maher said.
So when he moved back to Nanaimo in the summer he reached out to his old collaborator and Schmooze artistic producer Dean Chadwick with the idea of starting a similar seasonal family tradition.
“I knew that Harbour City Theatre Alliance wanted to begin doing their own shows and it seemed like a perfect production to put together that could be done annually that will bring in families to come and see theatre and be introduced to theatre,” said Chadwick, who is also directing the play.
He said that part of the theatre’s growing mandate is to bring in new audiences, and Maher and Chadwick’s approach to the material is designed to appeal to families.
“We’ve really tried to broaden it to be open to kids,” Chadwick said. “So there’s lots of humour, lots of physical stuff, lots of big characters for them to get drawn into. Even if they don’t necessarily understand everything, they’re going to understand all of it.”
“We’ve made it lighter,” Maher added. “But think not all the way to Muppet Christmas Carol, but like less Alastair Sim, more Muppet.”
The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, for example, are referred to as “spirits” instead to keep it supernatural without the undead aspect.
“More Goosebumps scary than Nightmare on Elm Street,” Maher called it.
The production will feature 15 actors playing 40 roles and it will be a bit of a family affair: Maher appears in the play with his wife and three sons, another actress is joined by her daughters and Chadwick has a younger second cousin in the cast.
“It’s a nice mash-up of really experienced actors with these kids who are really, incredibly talented,” Chadwick said.
WHAT’S ON … The Harbour City Theatre Alliance and Schmooze Productions present A Christmas Carol at the Harbour City Theatre from Nov. 22 to Dec. 15 at 2 and 7 p.m. $15 for adults, $10 for children, $40 family passes for two adults with two children. Tickets available here or at the door.