Last Sunday David and I made it out to Keswick On, about an hour North of Toronto. I hadn’t really been feeling in the Christmas spirit yet this season (Humbug!), but when we saw A Christmas Carol, directed by first time director Alexandra Coyne, and performed by the Queensville Players, it definitely lifted my spirits just like Scrooge on Christmas morning!
The show opened with The Phoenix Singers; a mostly a cappella singing group. They were dressed in period attire suiting the rest of the cast of A Christmas Carol. They started out the show with 7 songs, my favorite 3 that they performed were “Carol of the Bells”. “Good King Wenceslas” and “Ding Dong Merrily on High”. I was absolutely floored by their singing! These 3 songs in particular stuck out for me as they were sung in rounds, and I’ve always been impressed with how groups of singers can pay attention to their own parts without being distracted by the others, as well as keep in time and harmony! Not only that, their voices were strong and highly skilled! They took me back in time and I felt as though they were really in a small village going door to door singing carols – I wish this still happened today! Absolutely everyone in this group impressed me, however there were a couple of singers that stuck out. Soprano singer Cyndy Wallbank was front and centre of the group and maybe this is why – first of all she looked absolutely adorable in her outfit, and her singing shone through and boomed throughout the theatre. My husband leaned over to me and pointed her out to me, we both nodded in agreement. Allyn Pollock and Fred Pinkerton were the bass singers of this group, excellent, and their outfits definitely rivalled those of the actors in the performance. I’m not sure if they provide their own costumes as The Phoenix Singers or not, but whoever decided on their outfits did a fabulous job. Of course, this a cappella group is not complete without every other member, Trina Richards (who added fun and cute expressions while walking about the stage), Helen Slawson, Kathy Smith, Judith Ferguson and Nancy Pickering all completed this beautiful set of singers. Had one person been added, or one person removed, it wouldn’t have been the same! They really warmed the set up for the old England 1800’s feel. Looking on their website, and the way they interacted on stage, you can tell they have worked together a long while and have become close like family. Click here to see their upcoming performances.
I personally love the story of A Christmas Carol. I always have, as I know many others do. However, I have always found the story in movies, a little bit long and drawn out, but maybe that is my short attention span talking. In the Queensville Players adaptation, there was no intermission and this was performed in 6 acts. I really enjoyed the length of this, and they were able to shorten it but still hit all the key moments and points of the story.
Ebeneezer Scrooge was played by Shaun Benjamin. I thought that Shaun was an excellent fit for the role of Scrooge. My only comment I would make is that I felt he could have boomed a little more when speaking to his nephew, Fred, about “the surplus population” etc. He did a fine job reciting it, but I felt he was a little restrained and I wanted to feel more anger and annoyance in his voice. However other than that tiny little critique, he was on point. He was confident on stage and had the demure and mannerisms of Ebeneezer, which I don’t think would be easy to play. I loved his navy coat, his top hat, the cane, and of course the infamous bright red scarf worn around his neck. I felt his best acting was in the final Act, where he had been visited by the spirits and had awoken Christmas morning with a new outlook on life, his community, and of course, the Christmas season. David and I actually passed him in the hall right after the show and got to say hello and tell him the show was great. He kept in character, nodding his head and saying “thank you”. It was nice to meet you Shaun!
Neil Shanks-Marshall stood out to me also, playing Fred and the ghost of Christmas present. His charisma, charm and quirkiness fit the role of the excitable Nephew of Scrooge. He was also excellent in the role of Christmas present. He made me laugh as he skipped around stage with his red cape and sparkly headpiece. His energy made him one of my favorites of the show.
Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and Old Joe were played by David Mathewson. His energy was boisterous and funny, he took up the stage with his personality alone. In each character, he played the role well, and I could also see his own unique personality shine through which his characters even more lovable.
I was shocked to learn that Skylar Scavuzzo is only 10 years old. Of some of the many parts she played, she was young Ebeneezer and Tiny Tim (my favorite character!) Her voice was so tiny, and sweet, but it was strong enough to be heard throughout the theatre. For such a young lady, she was impressive having to take on all these roles. I am always so inspired by little ones on the stage, starting community theatre so young. It takes a lot of courage, self confidence and dedication to do. Props to Skylar!
The cast was made up of 8 on stage characters. Each of them had to play more than one roll, as well as narrate (aside from Scrooge). Each part was done fabulously by cast members. They were all able to be so dynamic and made it easy and not confusing to be able to follow who they were playing even when they had to act as 3+ different characters.
We had to put our imagination to use on several occasions as props were minimal and sometimes had to pretend something that wasn’t there, was. This was ok, and added to the dismal feel of the poor in olde England.
The authentic atmosphere of this show was brought together by the experienced actors, singers, set design, light and sound, and of course directors, producers and all the behind the scenes volunteers. Thank you for a wonderful show and for getting me in to the Christmas Spirit!
If you’re not the reading type and would like to see my post show review, please check it out here: