What’s Christmas without Dickens—lots of Dickens?
The Christmas Carol Project, now in its 19th year, is among the handful of annual local shows based on that most classic of all Christmas tales: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This musical interpretation, initiated by producer John Armstrong, tells the story of Scrooge and the Cratchits through a set of songs written and performed by seven local musicians: Bill Bourne, Al Brant, Kevin Cook, Maria Dunn, Dale Ladouceur, Terry Morrison and Tom Roschkov.
“The first year was people sort of doing their more individual songs, and maybe adding instrumentation from someone else here and there,” says Dunn, who grew up watching the Alastair Sim film version of A Christmas Carol. “It gradually gelled over the years into a band arrangement of all of the songs, in what is a really rich presentation of them. The songs are tied together with narration by Dave Clarke, and it’s excerpted from A Christmas Carol—so it shows Dickens’ writing in all of its compassion and hilarity. It’s a really wonderful way to use the original words to bind the whole thing together.”
In previous years, The Christmas Carol Project has opened with a songwriter-in-the-round, where each of the artists performs one of the songs from their current repertoire, a format they’re following for this year’s instalment.
“There’s a real variety of textures going on through the whole show,” Dunn notes. “We take it from very simple, intimate arrangements of certain songs, to the big, all-out numbers.”
While The Christmas Carol Project sees new audience members each year, the show also has its share of regulars. Dunn has become so known for her pieces in the show that she gets comments on it well outside the holiday season. Her song from the perspective of Tiny Tim, “God Bless Us Everyone,” is even being featured in the new edition of the seminal Rise Up singing songbook published by Sing Out! folk magazine.
“It’s a beautiful story of redemption, however you want to think of that,” Dunn says. “It kind of reminds us of what is important about this holiday season and that is connecting with community and sharing our love with each other.”
Fri, Dec 19 & Sat, Dec 20 (8 pm)
Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns, $37.50—$42.50