Featuring a range of talented musicians sure to boost the seasonal spirit, the Christmas Carol Project runs Dec. 20 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.
“I went through the Grant MaEwan arts administration program, and became quite involved in the music scene in Edmonton very quickly,” he said. “What really struck me – besides the great caliber of performers – was that a lot of them would work together regardless of the different genres. You’d have blues guys sitting in with jazz guys. And jazz guys playing with country groups, and rockers dabbling with those playing blues. I thought it was great, and I thought it would be really cool to put together a way to showcase a bunch of these great performers from the various genres.”
This idea for the project was sparked during the Christmas season, and Armstrong recalls having seen the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol a little while earlier which also fueled his inspiration. “It hit me that that was the perfect vehicle simply because there are so many really strong character parts in it.
“You could have eight different performers in it who would each have important roles in the story.”
About a decade later, he was chatting with a buddy about the concept and plans began to take shape. “I basically took the story and broke it into chunks which represent songs. The characters were pretty much set – Tiny Tim, Scrooge, the three ghosts and Marley plus the auxiliary characters. With the main characters, I was able to break it down and give them ‘assignments’ (for songs).
“It was the artists themselves who wrote the songs from the perspectives of their various characters.”
Since its inception, the Christmas Carol Project has seen more than 80 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 aren’t many four-piece rock bands that can hold to that record,” he adds with a laugh. “It’s like we are a big extended family.
“It makes me happy – I love all of the songs. It doesn’t grow tired for me. It’s a nice time to get together with some good friends, play some good music, meet new people and travel,” he said.
“I also think the story of A Christmas Carol is timeless, and that it appeals to large number of people. It’s an important message of Christmas – caring of other people, sharing and looking out for the less fortunate.
“I think ideally, it puts people into a good Christmas spirit. I like to see people walking out of the theatre with big smiles on their faces.”
For tickets, call the Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre at 403-755-6626 or check out www.bkticketcentre.ca.