Last year the Harbour City Theatre Alliance sought to establish a new Christmas tradition in Nanaimo with its inaugural production of its adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
This season that tradition continues as the HCTA presents the Victorian classic at the Harbour City Theatre from Nov. 21 to Dec. 15.
The play follows Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who changes his ways after being visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve and seeing visions of his past, present and future.
Co-director Dean Chadwick said the inaugural production, with a script by local playwright Jim Maher, was “extremely successful.”
“We had tons of feedback from audiences who loved it and are coming back this year,” he said. “They’re already buying tickets so they’re ready to come and see something new.”
“And the cast had a really good time, too,” added Sophia Maher, who is reprising her four roles from last year as well as co-directing. “It’s a lot of fun to bring people back and have some of the same cast from last year.”
Jim has revised his script, the co-directors said, making it more focused while turning up the laughs and the scares.
The play will also open differently than last year, a novelty Sophia said Jim hopes to continue in the years ahead.
“He wanted to do something a little bit new every year just to keep it interesting for people coming back,” she said.
Chadwick said the returning actors will get to build on their previous portrayals.
“You come back and you get to pull even more from people,” Chadwick said. “You get to expand where they’ve already been because they already have that base experience so now we’re asking and creating more for them.”
New to the cast is Michael Armstrong as Scrooge. He said it’s a role full of opportunities for an actor to explore “the outer boundaries of the craft.”
“You get a man being visited by terrifying spirits, so there’s this horror and fear, and then also being redeemed at the end and is absolutely so light and so full of joy that he can’t stand still,” Armstrong said. “So he goes from one extreme to the other.”
Although it’s set in the 19th century, Armstrong said A Christmas Carol remains timeless because it’s a relatable story of redemption.
“It fills the audience with such hope about the possibility of things that can happen, not only for the people around us that we see and don’t like or have problems with, but for our own selves. For our own sins,” he said. “And I guess in that sense it’s also a very Christian story.”
WHAT’S ON … The Harbour City Theatre Alliance presents A Christmas Carol at the Harbour City Theatre, 25 Victoria Rd., from Thursday, Nov. 21 to Sunday Dec. 15 at 7 p.m., Sunday performances at 2 p.m. Tickets $10 to $15, available online.