It’s the day after the opening night of their Christmas production, O Christmas Tea, and Aaron Malkin and Alistair Knowles are at the ACT Theatre in Maple Ridge making sure their special effects hardware is in working order.
“Aaron’s repairing a snow machine and I’m about to go off and repair our candy cane confetti cannon, so you’re catching us at kind of a fun moment,” Knowles said.
“I’m proud to say that this year the show will feature three different kinds of snow, three different underwater effects lights and three different cannons,” Malkin added. “Who doesn’t love cannons?”
O Christmas Tea comes to the Port Theatre on Dec. 12. In it, the Vancouver duo play James and Jamesy, two friends who go on an adventure when the world becomes inundated with tea.
Malkin and Knowles have been performing the show for the past five years and after rehearsing for the past couple of months, they said it’s good be taking it on the road again. Malkin said it’s a shared experience for all involved.
“It’s so fun to get back into the show with an audience,” he said. “I kind of forget every year how much the joy of the audience plays a role in the show. So it’s just a really exhilarating ride performing it every time.”
“Through the year we think of it as a two-person show – there’ are two people on stage – and then realizing how much of a conversation it is with the audience … how much of a game it is,” Knowles added. “It’s not like watching two people play Monopoly, it’s like all of us are playing simultaneously.”
The production has changed over the past five years. But this year, rather than restructuring the show or relying on technical effects, they’ve been focusing on “the nuance of relationship” and creating a “quirky, charming environment where the audience can embrace their inner child,” Knowles explained.
He added that they’ll be bringing that sense of wonder to new audiences next year, when they bring the show to Ontario, New York State and the Great Lakes region. He said the show has come a long way since its beginnings as a single sketch.
“It’s been really exciting to go from eight years ago in small theatres or doing cabaret things to now performing at the Port Theatre and the Royal Theatre [in Victoria] and all these grand theatres around the West Coast, which is pretty thrilling,” Knowles said.
WHAT’S ON … O Christmas Tea comes to the Port Theatre on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $19 to $44, available at the box office.