It’s almost Epiphany, time for me to throw out the leftover turkey, finish the chocolate and mince tarts, unplug the tree, and get back to rehearsing and watching theatre.
But first, I want to tell you about two Christmas-ish theatre productions. This year I didn’t see Christmas Carol, Best Little Newfoundland Christmas Pageant, or Nutcracker Suite. You probably already know what they’re like, though.
The panto is a Christmas tradition in England and other parts of the UK, and Capitol Theatre at Fort Edmonton Park has been presenting a pantomime around Christmas for five years now. It’s one of the few theatre productions in town that has a performances on Christmas Eve (a matinee) and between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, so I always like going to it while the rest of my schedule is on pause.
This year’s production of Red Riding Hood was written and directed by Dana Anderson, and featured Madelaine Knight (as Red), Jeff Halaby (as Red’s mother and grandma as well as some other characters), Aaron Macri (on-stage DJ), Melissa MacPherson in various roles, and Davina Stewart as a wonderful Big Bad Wolf villain. It was lots of fun, with clever topical humour (the beach-boy from Accidental Beach especially) and enthusiastic audiences.
The other play I saw before Christmas was about Christmas traditions, about an engaged couple first discovering their mismatched preferences and trying to figure out how to be happy and together despite them. Conni Massing was the writer of Oh! Christmas Tree and Brian Deedrick directed the co-production by Blunt Entertainment and Theatre of the New Heart. Lora Brovold and Collin Doyle were perfectly cast, she embracing her overbearing Swedish family’s traditions and he preferring to avoid the whole thing. They alternated scenes in front of a curtain (outdoors, and talking to an unseen clergyman at premarital counselling) with pulling back the curtain to reveal a living room which was decorated differently every time. (I was impressed with the running crew!) The ending was happy without being glib, and felt fair to me.