“Christmas is such a warm and happy time of year,” says Martha Cratchit to her overworked and overwhelmed father, Bob Cratchit. It is hard for him to believe as his daughter does. Of course, he has a real Scrooge for a boss so it makes it pretty hard to celebrate the season fully when you have to be back at work first thing the day after the holiday and then there is the matter of his sick child, Tiny Tim. Luckily for us, we don’t live in Victorian London where it is a hard knock life for the majority of the population and you can’t even get a second helping of gruel without begging.
There is much to be thankful for in Kelowna and we are a community that is generous to those who are in need. Rather than sending them to the poorhouse, debtor’s prison or workhouses as was the requirement in Dicken’s time, we work together to give so there is little suffering as evidenced by many amazing fundraising efforts in motion throughout the calendar year. And though we still do have those that struggle daily - starving artists among them - I think we can all agree that modern times are not quite the spartan experience faced in the plays, Oliver!, The Elves and The Shoemaker and A Christmas Carol - all plays that will be mounted this Christmas time in our theatre community. There is also a magical revamping of another dark and dusty holiday classic -The Wizard Of Oz - by Theatre Kelowna in the form of the catchy musical The Wiz which promises to leave you wanting to ease on down your own yellow brick road.
The Wiz opens this week and is directed by the well-respected long time Theatre Kelowna director/actor/set designer Brian Haigh and stars Ashley Lewicki, Graham Daley, Konar Sanderson and George Walker. Running for two weeks in the big Kelowna Community Theatre, this production features outstanding sets, which Haigh is notable for, and stellar musical performances by this gang who have been featured in past TKS holiday productions. I know several of them as former students from my short stint teaching theatre at RSS and from working with them at New Vintage Theatre on other shows. This mega production promises to be a big, big hit with families so get your tickets now before they sell out - I hear that there is a tornado, big top and more! Don’t miss it.
Oliver! is Kelowna Actor’s Studio’s annual holiday production and is much anticipated-as all of their wonderful holiday shows are. A large cast play, the musical by Lionel Bart has some of the most iconic songs in theatre and includes a multitude of adorable children. Based on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, there is also a darkness in the relationships of these desperate characters who long to “buy a wonderful morning”; but like any great story there is a resolution for the young hero that will leave you glad you considered this classic musical directed by one of the true masters of Kelowna musicals, Randy Leslie. Oliver! runs Dec.7-21 and you better get your tickets now as they traditionally sell out well in advance of their opening.
A good friend and collaborator of mine is Angela Lavender and she is the director of Bumbershoot Theatre’s upcoming play, The Elves and The Shoemaker. Without giving too much away I know that this play includes so very many magical elements-something Bumbershoot Theatre is known for-including custom made puppets by a friend of Angela’s that has national recognition. And who doesn’t love elves? This show opens the week before Christmas and runs throughout the school break so it makes it the perfect outing for those of you who want to celebrate the arts before or after the holiday.
A Christmas Carol is New Vintage Theatre’s holiday offering and it is bigger, better and even more memorable than last year’s production. Moved to the plush Creekside Theatre, where every seat is a good one, A Christmas Carol this year features a Scrooge who is even more selfish and miserly, a Marley that is more ominous and ghosts and visions from the past that are even more compelling. My favorite thing about doing this play that is very faithful to the Dicken’s classic was working at the door last year and hearing all of the families leaving thanking us for “putting them in the Christmas spirit”. That was one of my favorite gifts last year. To get tickets for this year’s show you need to call Creekside Theatre directly; and as with these other holiday shows tickets are almost gone so get yours today.
Here are the details on each show:
The Wiz plays November 27-December 7 at Kelowna Community Theatre, tickets available from www.selectyourtickets.com
Oliver! plays December 3-21 at Kelowna Actor’s Studio, tickets available from www.kelownaactorsstudio.com
The Elves and The Shoemaker runs Dec. 20-31 at Bumbershoot Theatre, tickets available from www.bumbershoottheatre.com
A Christmas Carol by New Vintage Theatre runs from Dec. 17-21. Tickets are available by calling Creekside Theatre- 250-766-9309. Tickets are $25 each or $80 for a group of 4.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.