Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is given a heartwarming country twist in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s season-opening show at Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver.
“Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol” opened Wednesday night (Nov. 24) for a full house of mask-wearing audience members.
The American country-music icon wrote music and lyrics for the show, which features lively dance numbers and fiddle-driven songs played by a band of five musicians.
The show marks the theatre company’s return to the Stanley stage after almost 20 months of darkness in the historic theatre, due to the pandemic.
On “media” night Wednesday, heavy rain fell on patrons as they lined up around the block for vaccine-card scanning required for entry. Also, masks must be worn in the venue at all times.
Set in 1930s East Tennessee, the musical re-imagines Ebenezer Scrooge (David M. Adams) as the owner of a mining-company town in the Smoky Mountains. As a Christmas Eve snowstorm rages overnight, Scrooge revisits his past, present, and future with the help of his dead business partner’s spirit and three ghosts. Not surprisingly, he ultimately sees the light and discovers the true meaning of Christmas.
The Arts Club production of the musical, which debuted in Boston in 2019, is directed by Bobby Garcia, who describes the show as “a heartwarming mash-up of two icons”: Dickens and Dolly.
“At its core, the show is a poignant reminder of the importance of community and of the sparkling magic that musicals can bring into our lives,” Garcia explained in a pre-show news release.
Curtain call for Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol tonight at @theArtsClub’s Stanley Theatre. Heartwarming retelling of A Christmas Carol with some lively 30s-style dancing, singing and live band. Great to have shows back, with @DjJillyWonka by my side! 😘 pic.twitter.com/3SZFDpINEU— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) November 25, 2021
Tickets for the show start at $43, via artsclub.com, and the run continues until Jan. 2.
Looking ahead, Surrey-based actor James Yi will star as Appa in the Arts Club’s next show at the Stanley, “Kim’s Convenience,” which opens Feb. 24. In February 2020 the production was set to play Surrey Arts Centre as part of a regional tour, but didn’t, due to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic at that time.
This fall and winter, the company has put the brakes on its popular touring shows to Surrey and other local cities.
“There are no plans to do any touring shows this coming season, but we’re hoping by next season to continue with those, in 2022-23,” White Rock-raised artistic director Ashlie Corcoran said last July. “We really look forward to doing our touring shows, and they’re vital to our mandate. It’s something we’ve really missed for the last year and a half. Our show Kim’s Convenience was on tour to Surrey and other cities at the very start of the pandemic, and it was the first show we had to cancel, actually.”
In “Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol,” cast members are Georgia Acken (Tiny Tim A), David Adams (Scrooge), Scott Bellis (Scrooge Standby), Andrew Cownden (Man #1), Charlie Gallant (Man #3), Krystal Kiran (Woman #4), Graeme Kitagawa (Man #5), Felix LeBlanc (Male Standby), Miranda McDougall (Female Standby), Chelsea Rose (Woman #2), Madeleine Suddaby (Woman #1), Stephan Thakkar (Man #6), Rickie Wang (Tiny Tim 1), Andrew Wheeler (Man #2), Jonathan Winsby (Man #4) and Synthia Yusuf (Woman #3).
The “Smoky Mountain” band features musicians Monica Dumas (bass), Martin Fisk (percussion), Jay Leonard Juatco (guitars), Kathleen Nisbet (fiddle) and Shaun Verreault (banjo, mandolin, dobro).