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Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' adapted and written by Justin Haigh

Presented by Three Ships Collective and Soup Can Theatre, now onstage at Toronto's historic Campbell House

Laura Dittman

Dave Rabjohn

“An engaging story which helps to define Christmas.”

From the Three Ships Collective and Soup Can Theatre, and now in its fifth year, ‘A Christmas Carol’ continues to charm sold out Toronto audiences. This Dickens classic is an immersive promenade through the historic Campbell Museum.

The venue is both a delight and a disadvantage. The intimacy of the small rooms and low ceilings seems to plant us in Victorian England. The audience moves from room to room through the various scenes in the very company of the actors. We sit with them in their kitchens and bedrooms and lean on their furniture. The disadvantage is simply that audience size has to be quite restricted leaving many theatre goers without this unique experience. Watch early for 2024 tickets!

Justin Haigh’s adaptation maintains Dickens striking tale of greed and redemption through a Christmas prism. Some distinct additions are made to further personalize the well known story. A fine example is the meek Bob Cratchit boldly trying to hide a foreclosure note to avoid a Christmas tragedy. Alecia Pagnotta’s musical direction also adds colour to the story with both sombre violin pieces (Manon Ens-Lapointe) and some rousing choral pieces.

The multi-talented cast is a combination of veterans from previous productions and newcomers. In Dickens’ novel, Jacob Marley’s ghost is a short-lived character in the early part of the story, however, his influence controls the narrative and Scrooge’s awakening. It is an ingenious twist to use Marley as the host and the guide as we move from room to room.

Played by Nicholas Eddie, Marley is a statuesque force – Eddie is both a powerful presence, but also a strangely calm and comfortable guide. With eerie chains and regal height, his eyes can’t help but look down upon us – again with a touch of both menace and warmth. An extraordinary performance.

Thomas Gough, as Scrooge, delivers a performance that must range through seething anger, distrust, and final humility. His meanness is often controlled and sometimes brash and wild. As he moves from desperate avarice to his final self-effacement, his voice softens – sometimes to the disadvantage of the audience when we strain to hear his mournful pleas for forgiveness.

Justine Christensen is remarkable as Scrooge’s young love interest. Her quiet scene with young Ebeneezer is heartbreaking especially when juxtaposed with Ebeneezer’s descent into lonely avarice.

Younger performers brighten the cast with both zeal and talent. Chloe Bradt plays both Martha Cratchit and the ever- popular Gus – the Goose-Fetching Lad. Alyzia Ines Fabregui is equally appealing as Tiny Tim Cratchit – she is paired with Ava Marquis alternating performances.

As with Dickens original novel, all three ghosts are varied and distinct. This is accomplished by Manon Ens-Lapointe as Christmas past and Jonnie Lombard as the excitable Christmas present and the ominous Christmas future.

Sare Thorpe’s fine direction is further remarkable as they navigate the production in a non-traditional venue. However, special credit is deserved as we were notified post-performance of an actor’s mid-performance illness where Thorpe quickly threw on a wig, stepped in and finished the job.

Dickens engaging novel helps to define Christmas. This production both reminds us of his genius and finds new ways for us to enjoy the remarkable story.

Even though the production is sold out for the rest of the run, you can sign up on a standby list for a given performance: soupcantheatre@gmail.com.

Even if no additional tickets become available this year, people who sign up for the wait list will also be notified about next year's production.

‘A Christmas Carol’ Charles Dickens, Adaptation – Justin Haigh
List of cast members see: christmascarolto.com

Director: Sare Thorpe
Stage manager: Scotia Cox
Music director: Alecia Pagnotta

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