Featuring a range of talented musicians sure to boost the seasonal spirit, the Christmas Carol Project runs Dec. 18 on the Arts Centre mainstage.
Show time is 7:30 p.m.
Set to perform are Bill Bourne, Al Brant, Dave Clarke, Kevin Cook, Maria Dunn, Bill Hobson, Dale Ladouceur, Terry Morrison and Tom Roschkov.
The concept for project surfaced back in the 1980s. John Armstrong wanted to showcase many of the diverse talents of Edmonton’s music scene and decided that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was the perfect vehicle.
“From the time that I became involved with Edmonton’s music scene, I marveled at the quality, diversity and cross-genre cooperation of the artists. I began thinking about trying to showcase these characteristics within a multi-artist show. This was around Christmastime and seeing the Alaistar Sim Christmas Carol movie provided the idea of a perfect vehicle for such a showcase. It has so many strong character parts and it’s such a great story,” he said.
“It was several years later when I related the idea to Tom Roschkov, who immediately encouraged me to pursue. Tom signed on as Bob Cratchit and I eventually recruited the rest of the cast. The musicians then wrote the songs and we tied the story together by adding a narrator and using portions of Dickens actual text.”
Since its inception, the Christmas Carol Project has seen more than 90 performances, three tours, a CD and an award-winning television special which really helped to bolster awareness of the production.
Incredibly, the only cast changes have been with the narrators. The original cast of songwriters has remained the same for 17 years.
“There was a year that we added a few new songs, bringing the total up to 23. Occasionally an artist will suggest a change in feel to one of their songs. Better Way used to be a blues song and now it has more of a reggae feel. When There’s Nothing At All has taken on a bit of a hip hop groove in the past couple of years,” said Armstrong. “It’s funny that I don’t get bored of the show. We’ve had 90 performances and quite a few rehearsals. But, the songs are great and the performers find new ways to give them life. Most of the cast come from a roots music background so the arrangements can be flexible and solos can be extended. And as a result, every show is unique in some way or another.”
He added the production has special meaning for the cast.
“After 18 years, the Carol has become a tradition for all of us. Everyone in the cast keeps busy with their own careers and families. So, unless some of us end up at the same summer festival or event, we don’t really see all of the cast together except for this time of the year – I guess that’s the way it is for large families. We’re like that.”
The production also has special meaning to those who have seen it and who make it an annual tradition in their lives.
“I think one of the best compliments that I hear fairly often is that ‘Christmas’ doesn’t really begin for some people until they’ve come to the Christmas Carol Project, so it’s good that all of our shows happen before December 25th this year,” said Armstrong.
He added he enjoys connecting with the audience as well.
“I’m often at the merch table and always have interesting conversations with fans wanting to know about new releases and such and at the end of the show the cast come out to chat and sign CDs and it’s very cool how the audience enjoy speaking with them.”
For tickets, call the Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre at 403-755-6626 or check out www.bkticketcentre.ca.