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Message of STC’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ especially poignant two years into a global pandemic

Sudbury actor, author and playwright Matt Heiti, who stars in the show, says he initially wondered by STC would re-stage the Dickens’ classic since it was performed in 2019, but then thought, ‘there’s never a better time than right now, to have a reminder about being kind to others, and connecting with others in a time when we feel so distant from everyone’

If you missed Sudbury Theatre Centre’s 2019 holiday production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, you have a second chance Dec. 2-12.

The small cast includes Sudbury actor, author and playwright Matthew Heiti, who repeats his performance from two years ago, narrating the story and jumping in and out of many other characters, including Scrooge, Fred and Mr. Fezziwig.

Puppeteer Joël Giroux brings life to the ghosts, and the show also features a chorus of young carolers made up of students from STC’s academy: Alice Cropper, Cole Melin, Julia Moulaison, Brianne Portelance and Adrienne Young.

While Sudbury Theatre Centre brought back A Christmas Carol for a second time partly due to budgetary considerations, Heiti said he thinks the production contains messages of particular import given what’s been happening in the world the past two years amid a global pandemic.

Heiti said his initial response was “Why do something again? We’ve already done it.” 

But when he thought about it more, he realized he watches A Christmas Carol (his favourite adaptation is the 1951 Alastair Sim film) and reads the Dickens text every year, and it never gets old.

“It seems there’s never a better time than right now, to have a reminder about being kind to others, and connecting with others in a time when we feel so distant from everyone,” Heiti said, adding he hopes people feel comfortable enough to take in the production.

This production of A Christmas Carol is directed by John McHenry, Sudbury Theatre Centre’s artistic director.

“It’s a classic story, and it’s been on film in so many versions,” he said, adding that the production is enjoyable for the whole family. “This is just one more version that people can enjoy. It’s a lovely story, it really is.”

McHenry praises Heiti (“a director’s dream”) and Giroux (“he’s doing a fantastic job”) for their work in the production in which they both take on multiple roles. 

The production’s writer, Jeremy Webb, is the artistic director of Neptune Theatre in Halifax, and has performed this version of Dickens’ Christmas classic more than 650 times since 2003.

The score’s composer, Scott Macmillan, is described in the press release as “a musical treasure, playing a significant role expanding audiences for Atlantic Canadian music both nationally and internationally for over 40 years.”

McHenry said STC’s last season, 2019-2020, also featured many one-person shows, and that was for financial reasons as the theatre centre wrangled with financial issues.

The current season also has a lot of one-person shows, and again it’s partly for financial reasons, but also to keep cast members safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

McHenry said people are still uncertain about coming out to the theatre. STC’s first production of the season, Quiet! I’m Talking, “didn’t do as well as we hoped, but we had to start somewhere.”

He said ticket sales for A Christmas Carol are picking up, “but it can always be better.”

Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Greater Sudbury region, Public Health Sudbury recently introduced more public health restrictions.

With these restrictions in place, Sudbury Theatre Centre must limit its audiences to half-capacity, although STC was already planning to run with these audience limitations. It has reduced the run of the show, however.

COVID-19 vaccination records and ID will be checked at the door in keeping with public health requirements. 

Tickets can be purchased by calling STC’s box office at 705-674-8381, ext. 21 (the box office is not open for in-person service due to the work-from-home-order, but messages will be answered) or online at sudburytheatre.com.



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