(Posted 1 p.m., Dec. 8)
Stock's holiday production a very edificational (sort
of) Christmas play
By Fred Sherwin
The Vintage Stock Theatre production of 'A
Very Special Christmas' featured a number
of vetrean local actors including John Cook,
left, and Sam Leclair. Fred Sherwin Photo
it to local playwrite Susan Flemming to pen a holiday
play that lifts the Christmas spirit while not exactly
being about Christmas.
"A Very Little Christmas Play"
is the Vintgae Stock Theatre company's latest holiday
offering which recently wrapped up production at the Shenkman
play featured two of my favourite local actors, Sam Leclair
and John Cook, who are both accomplished playwrite's in
their own right, and was produced by another local theatre
veteran, Sarah Benfield, while Nicolas Alain directed.
plays Ruby Pritchard, the local librarian in the small
rural town of Pritchard's Corners, who looks forward every
hiliday for the arrival of Mrs. Trumaine's Travelling
Theatrical Ensemble, while Cook plays Gerald Hammer, a
Boer War veteran and recent arrival to the town who gets
somewhat unwillingly swept up in the town's theatrical
while Leclair and Cook feature prominently in the play,
the real stars are Marni Hunt Stephens and Ellen Manchee
who play competing mavens Argentina Pritchard and Cordelia
is the town matriach, who believes that the theatre is
important in the "edification" of the population.
It is also an important fundraiser for the beautification
of the community which bears her name. Proceeds from the
production will be used to build a welcome arbor on the
town's main street.
A big believer in planning ahead of time, Pritchard organizes
a town meeting months ahead of the theatical ensemble's
arrival for the sole purpose of assigning tasks to the
she learns that Mrs. Trumaine's Travelling Theatrical
Ensemble has gone bankrupt and therefore won't be coming,
she decides to forge ahead with her own production instead.
plans are interrupted, however, with the arrival of Beecham
and her husband/manager Walter Mason, played by Ian McGregor.
Beecham is an aging ingenue who is trying to stay one
step ahead of the talking pictures and her creditors.
the guise of wanting to make up for Mrs. Trumaine's Theatrical
Ensemble's sudden demise, Beecham "offers" to
help produce Pritchard's "Very Little Christmas Play"
much to the chagrin of Mrs. Pritchard.
Pritchard's objections, Beecham soon takes over the production.
She rewrites Pritchard's script, adding a starring role
for herself while making Hammer her leading man.
townsfolk are all smitten by the star in their midst,
except for Argentina of course. Unfortunately they are
completely unaware that Beecham and Mason plan to take
off with the play's receipts while the rest of the town
celebrate their success.
two villains begin to have a change of heart when the
actors present Beecham with a blanket which they all took
turns in making. Having already taking the money box,
Mason tries to return it but is found out by Pritchard's
daughter Ruby who thanks him for "finding" it.
Cordelia Beecham is presented with a blanket
from the townsfolk of Pritchard's Corners
from a scene in Vintage Stock Theatre's production
of 'A Very Special Christmas Play'. Fred Sherwin
scene switches to the community hall. The play has ended
and Mason is passing through the empty room when his eyes
catch the money box sitting on the desk. Unable to help
himself he quickly snatches it and runs off to join his
wife and co-conspirator on the waiting train.
to them, however, Ruby had already taken the money out
of the box and stuffed in her stocking. She and Hammer
are not only basking in their theatrical success having
received four curtain calls, but they also have enough
money to build a dozen welcome arbors "covered in
loved everything about the play and the underlying message
that nothing can spoil the true spirit of Christmas was
not lost on me. In fact. I went out and bought a Christmas
tree the next morning.
the actors mentioned, the play also featured Marseille
Lachance as Rena Baxter, who makes a delicious cranberry
bake, or so we're told; Meredith Wood as her daughter
Frieda Baxter; Jamie Westmore as Pearl Pritchard Latham;
Eric Lafrance as Pearl's husband Myles Latham; Sarah Allen
as their daughter Opal Latham; and David Elliott as their
son and harmonica playing snowflake.
Very Little Christmas Play" is yet another entertaining
production in a long list of entertaining productions
by Vintage Stock Theatre. My only criticism is that I
never got to see the actual play. Oh well, perhaps they
can put on Mrs. Prtichard's very little production next
year. Hint. Hint.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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