Between Shifts Theatre Company has boldly taken on a classic Christmas tale in adapting Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol — and based on a media preview night, this production is worth seeing.
So much can go so wrong with any production as potentially complex as Ebenezer Scrooge's story but Between Shifts has found a way to make this production, now in its second week, work in a very intimate setting.
The stage play by Fiona Revil Summers has been performed each night to a small audience at the Brackendale Art Gallery (BAG) in a venue that features two stages. To access the smaller secondary stage the cast moved through the audience and viewers were made part of the production as the action moved between the stages.
The performances from the cast are good. Two deliveries stood out on media night. Paul Borchert created a truly frightening Ghost of Marley complete with an eerie presence and a booming voice that was so powerful it seemed to rattle the solid wooden posts and beams of the theatre.
Borchert is so commanding that parents may want to consider hiring a baby sitter because the Ghost of Marley will freak out easily frightened children.
Emma Wong, playing the roll of Belle, touched the audience and left the crowd convinced of her heartbreak as she returned her engagement ring to young Scrooge. Wong clearly climbs into the character and effectively recreates the pain realized when love has run out and a relationship has no future.
The excellent performance put on by Wong is doubly impressive, since Belle isn't the only character that Wong portrays. Like many in this production, Wong plays other characters. The cast is made up of about 30 people and about half of the cast members have taken on more than one part.
Even the director takes a turn in front of the audience. Carla Fuhre plays the ghost of Christmas Future though her character's black robe costume renders Fuhre totally anonymous.
The costumes assembled for this period piece were noted. The production team had a significant challenge outfitting the large group of actors in period costumes to effectively portray the era.
Costume designer Janet Dundas worked with four helpers to ensure all the characters had clothing that reflected their personalities and time in history.
The show producers have also done a good job of incorporating live music by Linda Dupuis into the performance. Dupuis played live piano in many scenes and a recorder in a dance scene.
"This is a limited run with only eight performances total," producer Lisa Schaer writes in an e-mail message. Tickets are available at the Squamish Adventure Center, Billie's Bouquet and Portico Gallery as well as at the Brackendale Art Gallery for the final week of shows starting tonight (Thursday) through to Sunday evening. The tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors.