Watching A Christmas Carol at the Citadel Theatre is a tradition for many Edmonton families, but those who take in the Christmas classic this year will notice a big difference.
As part of the 20th anniversary of the performance at the Citadel, the theatre has made some major changes.
Playwright David van Belle took on the monumental task of rewriting the Charles Dickens tale of a curmudgeon — old Ebenezer Scrooge — driven by greed.
He started writing it two years ago.
“We really focused on, ‘What is it that people come to A Christmas Carol for?'” van Belle told Global News. “It’s been a long but really wonderful journey.”
The writer took inspiration from a time which he feels is synonymous with Christmas; the 1940s and 1950s.
“There’s this whole body of beautiful movies and music from the mid-20th century that we associate really strongly to Christmastime,” he said. “Why don’t we take the story and express it in that world which is also really familiar and reminds us so much about Christmas?”
The new adaptation is set in that time period, which is one of the biggest changes you’ll notice on stage, as compared to the original which takes place in the late 1800s.
You’ll also hear some “new-to-A Christmas Carol” yet actually not-so-new Christmas carols, as well as a new take on costumes and sets.
There’s also inspiration from holiday film favourites like Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life.
“The story is so mythic,” van Belle said. “We might change the setting, or we may change parts of the story, but the heart of it remains the same: the story of redemption we keep coming back for.”
Former Edmontonian Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks knows both versions of the story. She played the Ghost of Christmas Past for three years when she was a child and has returned 15 years later to play Scrooge’s love interest, Belle.
“I’m back now and I’m still having just as much fun as I had as a kid,” she said. “I think audiences should be most excited to see the same story that they know from a different perspective.”
“Being in the same world of the same story, but in a completely new setting and a new adaptation, is a really big treat,” Jimenez-Hicks said.
Jimenez-Hicks is now a professional actress based in Toronto, but made the trip back to her hometown to be a part of this performance.
“When I did this as a kid, I just remember it being so much fun,” she said. “I thought if I can make a career out of having this much fun, that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
You can see all of the changes in the play at the Maclab Theatre from Nov. 30 to Dec 23, complete with a little touch of holiday magic.
“You’ll have to see it to see all of the details,” Jimenez-Hicks said with a smile.