Central Alberta Theatre’s latest dinner theatre, Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) is an absolutely unique, brisk and engaging kick-off to the holiday season.
The production runs through to Dec. 15th at the Black Knight Inn with dinner at 6 p.m. and the show to follow.
First off, the cast of three (Blaine Newton, Isaac Rice and Erick Wilkinson) does a terrific job with the extremely clever material, which was penned by Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald and John K. Alcverez.
Instead of performing Charles Dickens’ holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture and every carol ever sung.
Squeezing so many snippets, glimpses and looks at so many popular shows, tunes, traditions and such makes for a very fast-paced show, and as mentioned, the cast is up to the task.
Of the three, Newton shines the brightest.
There is pretty much nothing this very talented man can’t do – he takes on varying personas with ease. His expressions are always a blast to watch, and his energy is just unstoppable.
As an experienced actor, he also brings a depth and richness to his role – he’s the character who really wants to present the traditional story of A Christmas Carol to the audience, but lands in the middle of a madcap mash-up of holiday stories.
I just can’t say enough about his performance – he breathes life into every single scene he’s in; a charming scene-stealer from start to finish. There is also no doubt that show leaves lots of room for improv – something the trio clearly each are naturally gifted at tackling.
Wilkinson and Rice are indeed very talented young men with clear insight into what fires up a comic performance, although there was, on the night I saw the show, a bit of tentativeness on their parts to really ‘dive’ in to their roles at certain points of the show.
But the potential is clearly there as this is only the beginning of the show’s run – both have keen senses of comic timing that really serve them well. They just need to be a tad louder and ‘bigger’ in their roles as they play off a powerhouse like Newton.
Ultimately, director Paul Sutherland has crafted a sleek, appealing and enjoyable show. Sutherland is a powerful and intensely talented actor in his own right, so it’s fascinating to see his touch on this popular production. There is no doubt his own extensive experience helped bring much inspiration to the actors as the production took shape.
Audiences will get a kick out of seeing such a rapid flurry of popular Christmas shows, movies, plays, traditions – you name it.
There’s everything from a look at Charlie Brown’s classic Christmas special to other holiday staples like the movie It’s a Wonderful Life and of course A Christmas Carol itself. References to pop culture abound, with audiences continually reminded of things that have been an intrinsic part of the holidays for ages.
Sometimes the stories are intertwined, sometimes they are ‘altered’ with snappy results.
There’s even a point where the guys belt out an array of carols that have been seamlessly arranged.
Credit of course has to go to the trio who penned the script. It’s lots of fun and really, as mentioned, incredibly unique. I’ve never seen anything like it – ever. Congratulations to all involved on a really enjoyable evening that not only got the laughs but also tapped into a wealth of memories of what makes the Christmas season such a memorable and special time of year.
The play does come with a recommendation that it’s suitable for those 14 and up.
For tickets, visit www.tickets.blackknightinn.ca.