Theatre Orangeville presenting ‘A Christmas Carol’ online

November 20, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Theatre Orangeville is spreading its holiday spirit next month with its production of a Christmas Carol from December 4 to January 3, 2021.

“There can’t be a more beloved story at Christmas. We’re doing a reading of it: five readers: Andrew James, Dan Needles, Mayor Sandy Brown, Bernadette Hardaker and myself,” said David Nairn, Artistic Director of Theatre Orangeville.

This Christmas treat is coming as a virtual event for one and all to enjoy at their convenience online.

The way the show works is for a one time price of $25, anyone can purchase the link to watch the Christmas Carol reading online with a bubble-ful of friends and family.

Once you buy the link to the show, you can watch it any time of day. So, a link can be purchased for each of several homes all over the country — or the world – set your clocks to watch it at the same time for as much togetherness as time, distance and the Coronavirus will allow. There are many options. A bit like the Royal Wedding in 1981 being watched in every time zone around the globe.

A Christmas Carol, one of the most famous of the stories Charles Dickens left for us, is the tale of a curmudgeonly miser, Ebenezer Scrooge on one Christmas Eve, just seven years after his partner Jacob Marley died. Not at all given to fantasies, Scrooge receives a visit from Marley’s ghost, after he has returned to his own rooms. 

It seems Marley has two missions: one to convince Scrooge this is not an illusion nor a dream and, secondly, to forewarn him of the three phantom visitors he has yet to meet over the course of the night.

Highly resistant, Scrooge protests, but the dye is cast and his reformation has a chance, if only he will listen.

“We’re using the abridged version that Dickens himself wrote when he was reading during his tour of the States and Canada. We shot it last week at ‘Chateau Windrush’ [home and winery of John Penny and Marilyn Field in Hockley Valley],” said Nairn.

“It’ll be beautiful. The feeling of it is when you’re doing your baking or sitting on the couch with a glass of sherry maybe. It’s a reading not a play.”

The difference for anyone not familiar, is that a reading is a group of individuals, passing the story or play among them, while simply standing in one place reading from manuscripts. It is very interesting and entertaining. 

“It’s written in five staves [chapters] and each reader is reading one of the staves; I’m reading the last chapter.

“I’m very excited about it; there are four weeks to watch it,” said David Nairn and, then, he told the newspaper, “I am really thrilled that Hayden Thomas is playing traditional carols in between each stage. Hayden is playing beautiful arrangements of the carols and that’s really cool – that grand piano playing in that great hall of [Windrush] in front of the fireplace.”

He went on to talk about the new age we are in: “This is videoed: in this day and age of podcast, there’s always a difference, when you’re forced to sit in the theatre or movie. This is a different sort of dynamic. You can relax to enjoy it in your own home. I just love it. To me, it’s everything Christmas. 

“It’s going to be such an unusual and remarkable Christmas this year. After we open Christmas Carol and, then, there’ll be Leisa’s show, Rockin’ ‘Round the Christmas Tree – it’s just gorgeous, with Becky’s set.” Nairn noted.

Friends and families can’t gather like they normally would because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Theatre Orangeville’s Christmas Carol provides them with an opportunity to enjoy the story together, but at a distance, said Nairn. 

“So many traditions are going to be blown out the water this year and it’s my dream and my hope that our little gift will help bring some joy to families,” he noted. 

“We’re trying to bring it together for people to have that family tradition anyway.”

Nairn explained that the theatre’s purpose in these online productions is to “bring joy to our patrons.”

“It’s a hardship for everyone who loves the theatre not to go but, by doing this kind of entertainment. We’re heart broken but we’re doing this in the meantime,” he said.

“I’m not a filmmaker,” Nairn admitted of himself, “but I’m trying to do something. My parents used to watch Playhouse 90 and we’re trying to capture that spirit. We’re having fun with it, learning all sorts of things. Albeit this is not our choice but it’s what we’re happy to do at this time.”

Bernadette Hardaker, formerly General Manager of Theatre Orangeville, told the Citizen, “I found this version of a Christmas Carol really interesting. I thought he was on drugs when he wrote – some of the description are so detailed; light spinning around – it seemed so contemporary.”

“It was fun to do; always super fun to do – scenes within the scenes and every little scene within the scene has a story; some of the sentences have multiple clauses that you have to hit the right way to make the sentence work.” said Hardaker.

With this project in mind, she commented, “I’ve never read Dickens with such care as this. We’ve lost patience with non contemporary English.” 

Yet, “every single time I went to see Mid Summer’s Night Dream, I learned to love the language.” 

Taking the matter of a possible lost interest in literature, “We have to make a soft sell to young people; entice people back into the stories.”

“David has been extraordinary, so energized. I’m really excited about it – it ‘s really nice. I can buy the link for my friend in England and my family out west,” said Hardaker.

Another chat, this time with the extraordinary young musician, Hayden Thomas, “I’m playing Christmas carols for the show, several between each reading. I would say I do like the format. It’s a little different from what I’ve done before with Theatre Orangeville, which was accompanying.

“I’m the sort of person who can listen to someone reading for hours.”

Home schooled all his life, this is Hayden’s first year going to school: “It’s my last chance as I’m in grade 12. One thing: I’m in a drama group at school. We’re doing something very, very concentrated having only two days to write and stage a melodrama. It’s been interesting and a lot of work.”

Of the upcoming link for A Christmas Carol, David Nairn suggests, “Put it in your calendar. Unless it’s actually on your calendar, you might not remember. Treat it the same way as you do when you’re going to the theatre, telling yourself, ‘I’m going to watch this at [such and such] o’clock.

“Get dressed up and treat yourselves,” he said. “Take an hour and half out of your busy Christmas schedule and join us.”

All the information for A Christmas Carol and Rockin’ ‘Round the Christmas Tree and how to purchase the link is at

You can also call the Box Office for the link and to purchase gift certificates of links or both Christmas shows for a discount.

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