Tuesday, February 27, 2024
February 27, 2024

Scrooge returns to community hall roots

A well-loved tradition in island theatre returns this year with a new venue and new presentation style, making the 2019 run of Christmas with Scrooge at Fulford Hall an experience not to miss.

Opening Friday, Dec. 13 for a run of eight dates, the immersive musical theatre event by Newman Family Productions will feature an all-new “in the round” staging sure to enhance the connection between audience members and performers.

“It’s very exciting and creative,” said company lead Sue Newman. “There’s a very different kind of blocking that has to work in a very natural way, and for audiences it’s a more intimate way of watching and listening to a story.”

Christmas with Scrooge is known for involving nearly as many community members on stage and behind the scenes as can fit into the audience. Even with a slightly exaggerated “cast of thousands,” though, Scrooge is also known for its high quality of entertainment. Year after year it leaves audiences embracing the Christmas spirit with almost as much fervour as the title character after his amazing transformation.

The play began life in 1971 as Christmas Madness, a short musical adaptation of the classic Dickens story A Christmas Carol. Island newcomers Ray and Virginia Newman created the company and involved their three children partly as an avenue to build community in their new home. The play developed and expanded through many repeat presentations thereafter.

When Virginia died in 2013 at age 90 (Ray having preceded her in 1999), it seemed an era had passed. The company had stopped staging Scrooge after its 20th run in 2007. But after multiple requests from the community, Newman Family Productions committed to at least one more five-year run, to end with the 50th anniversary extravaganza in 2021.

Lack of availability at ArtSpring brings the show to Fulford Hall this year, which led in turn to the innovative “in the round” staging decision. For a show that started out playing island venues such as Central, Mahon and Fulford halls, the change is more than just an opportunity to switch things up.

The shows runs Dec. 13, 14 and 18 to 21 at 7 p.m., with matinee performances at 2 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 22. Audiences are urged to arrive early to soak in the festive Victorian environment.

Tickets are available at Salt Spring Books.

For more on this story, see the Nov. 27, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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