The title immediately raises eyebrows: A Tiny Christmas Carol.
So what exactly does that mean? Is it a miniature set? Is it just a snippet of the famous Charles Dickens classic that we all know so well?
No, the reference to tiny in the Christmas show at the Chemainus Theatre running from Dec. 2-23 simply means a production that would normally encompass a large cast to tell the tale is much smaller. But tiny certainly does not define the roles of the performers who all become larger than life during a constant transition into a multitude of characters.
You just won’t find the entire Cratchett clan, for example, assembled at the dinner table.
There’s Scrooge (Louise Phillips) and then just four actors in the ensemble – Emma Slipp, Jay Clift, Yasmin D’Oshun and Stephen Thakkar – to portray all the others in the new adaptation by Jessica Schacht and Chemainus Theatre Festival artistic director Mark DuMez.
The slow return from COVID restrictions has necessitated reduced casts for all Chemainus Theatre shows this season. But that hasn’t diminished the charm of the productions in the least and this is another prime example.
Ming Hudson, originally from Edmonton and now Vancouver-based who’s been transitioning her career during the lean COVID years, makes her debut at the Chemainus Theatre as director of the performance.
“I’ve been seeing shows here for a really long time,” she said. “I’m also an actor. I haven’t had the pleasure of working here in any capacity. It feels really cool to be here.”
Working on such an interesting project for her is a bonus.
“The audience is going to recognize the characters and the story,” Hudson pointed out for starters.
“I think our audience should also expect the unexpected. It’s the same story with the same characters but it’s going to look a lot different than they’re used to.”
‘Expect the unexpected’ might be a great tagline for theatre companies to use. After all, that’s what keeps audiences engaged, entertained and enlightened without entirely predictable scripts.
“I try to make a show that maybe challenges the way people remember the story,” said Hudson. “It’s still set in period times. It just has more of a contemporary feel to it.”
Needless to say, “it’s an extremely versatile cast,” Hudson said that she’s had the pleasure of working with during rehearsals that began Nov. 8 and advanced to the costume stage last week in preparation for the opening Friday.
There were a few hiccups with two cast members out with COVID for a week, but everything has still developed nicely.
“We have an understudy who’s jumped in and is amazing,” Hudson said of Talietha Sangha. “I think the cast has rallied and come together to create something magical.”
Hudson has also been loving the collaborative effort that’s gone into A Tiny Christmas Carol.
From design concepts to the action on the stage, everything has been done as a collective.
“It was sort of my job to funnel them into one cohesive piece,” Hudson noted.
With this valuable experience added to her resume, she’s going to keep all her future options open.
“I’m not going to say I’ll never act again,” said Hudson. “But this has been a real pleasure.”
Through all the bah humbugs, the true feeling of this joyous time of the year rings clear in A Tiny Christmas Carol.
“We hope that this show lifts your spirits and brings a little bit more colour to your holiday season,” said Hudson.
Tickets are still available for the show at www.chemainustheatrefestival.ca, but all space in the dining room is sold out for the three weeks.
A Tiny Christmas Carol will set the table for an announcement in early January about the Chemainus Theatre Festival’s 2023 schedule.