A Christmas Carol is returning to the Harbour City Theatre but this year’s production will be very different from Christmas past.
From Dec. 11 to 19 Schmooze Productions and the Harbour City Theatre Alliance Society are presenting their third annual adaptation of the Charles Dickens Christmas classic. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the play will be broadcast live online from an empty Harbour City Theatre and three actors – Schmooze artistic director Dean Chadwick and Jim and Sophie Maher – will be playing all the roles.
“Having to play numerous characters is part of the charm of this. It’s just a lot of fun. You’re switching back character to character, prop to prop, hat to hat, costume to costume…” said Chadwick, who is also directing. “Sophie at one point is doing I think four different characters all in a row all having a conversation and it’s a spectacle to watch.”
The production is inspired by radio plays and in that tradition Chadwick said the actors will be using specially made hand-cranked devices and reimagined everyday objects to produce sound effects in real time.
“We’ve got a really small group of people working together … but there’s so much happening,” he said. “So many sound effects are being created live, the characters are switching back and forth. I think I’m playing eight different characters, maybe 10.”
This year’s production of A Christmas Carol will also include actual Christmas carols as throughout the show there will be prerecorded video performances of Christmas songs by Schmooze Productions regulars. The songs are from the theatre company’s new album Making Spirits Bright. It’s the first record put out by Schmooze and Chadwick said they took the project on because “people had time on their hands and we needed to find ways of honing and using our creativity.”
“These are new times and we have to be really clever about how we’re going to come out of this COVID-ridden world and an album was a safe way to be creative and try something new at the same time,” he said.
Chadwick said watching everything come into place in the days leading up to a production is the most exciting time for him, adding that, “for such a strange time we’re living in right now, it’s nice to have something to anticipate and look forward to.” And while COVID-19 is preventing audiences from experiencing the show in person, through technology they’ll have the Christmas spirit beamed directly into their homes instead.
“This way we can still bring live performances to Nanaimo and all over the word, really, from our little space on Victoria Road,” Chadwick said.
WHAT’S ON … Schmooze Productions and the Harbour City Theatre Alliance Society present A Christmas Carol and Making Spirits Bright Concert live-streamed from the Harbour City Theatre on Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. Tickets $15 per household, available here. Making Spirits Bright is available here starting Dec. 4.