A Farndale Ladies’ Christmas Carol

November 2019

The unforgettable ladies from the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society, last seen in Cambrian Players’ 2017 production of The Farndale Murder Mystery, are back! This time, the ladies will do their best to take on Charles Dickens’ holiday classic – A Christmas Carol. Of course, with the Farndale ladies on the job, the beloved tale will have a bit of a different feel to it.

“There are actually nine Farndale plays in total, all written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jr,” explains director and co-producer Beverley Gravelle-MacLeod. “We did the murder mystery in 2017 and audiences just loved it, it was a huge success.”

The rule of thumb for a Farndale play, as Beverley says, is that “anything that can go wrong, does go wrong.” Missed cues, breaking character, and technical issues are all part of the Farndale charm.

“The same five characters who were in the murder mystery are starring in the Christmas production. My first move was to figure out if the same actors would be available since in community theatre, you never know. Everyone does it for the love of it on top of their day jobs. Fortunately, all the actors from the murder mystery have been able to reprise their roles,” says Beverley.

“We were really excited to come back,” says Lauren Payette, who plays Thelma Greenwood (who, in the play-within-the-play, is Ebenezer Scrooge). “It’s a blast. All we do is laugh. The hardest part of rehearsing has just been trying not to laugh through every scene.”

“A Christmas Carol is such a classic, and the Farndale ladies just manage to really muddle it up as only they can!” says Beverley. “This year it’s really fun because this time the play has music. There are two original songs and we have a choreographer working with the actors. The choreography is pretty simple because these are the Farndale gals we’re talking about, they’re not pros.”

“I don’t want to give too much away but there is one sing-off,” Beverley adds.

From original songs to dancing, to a fearless stage manager named Gordon, the show makes for a hilarious spoof on this cherished Christmas tale.

“Thunder Bay audiences love to laugh,” says Beverley. “It’s a fun precursor to Christmas. We open on November 27th, so if people are looking to get into the Christmas spirit and have fun and have a laugh, it’s a great outing.”

“And it’s something different,” Lauren adds. “Not to say that there’s anything wrong with the classics, but it’s a nice twist on a classic. You’re going to see A Christmas Carol like you’ve never seen it before.”

“You will see everyone you recognize, like Scrooge and the Cratchit family, but you may not see them portrayed in a way that you ever have before,” says Beverley. “As a member of the audience, you’re in on the joke because you can see where the Farndale gals have cut corners and added their own flair.”

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswoman’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol will play from November 27 to 30 and from December 4 to 7 at the Cambrian Players Theatre at 818 Spring Street. Tickets are available at Calico Coffeehouse, Fireweed, and at www.eventbrite.ca. Wednesday tickets are $20, Thursday-Saturdays are $25 for General Admission, and Senior and Student tickets are $20.

Cassandra Blair has a Masters of Arts in English Literature and is a regular contributor to Bayview.

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