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John D. Huston in A Christmas Carol Photo: David Whitely

Review: Black Sheep Theatre’s A Christmas Carol at the Gladstone—until 12.22.19

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier on December 17, 2019

Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

It’s a classic Christmas tale. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a story many of us know and that has been told many times before. One of the many film versions may even be in your annual holiday movie rotation.

But with snow on the ground and temperatures getting lower you will get all the warmth you need from the stage performance on now at The Gladstone. I know what you’re thinking—what makes this different than any other version of A Christmas Carol that you may have seen 100 times over? Well, in a story full of spirits, families and townspeople, actor John D. Huston has managed to capture every magnificent detail in a one-man show.

We were unsure as to how a tale like this could be told with only one performer, and all our expectations were exceeded.

John D. Huston Photo: David Whitely

John D. Huston Photo: David Whitely

We were unsure as to how a tale like this could be told with only one performer, and all our expectations were exceeded. John D. Huston, as Charles Dickens, walked onto a bare stage with a lone writing desk situated to one side. He proceeded to regale us with the classic story—changing voices and mannerisms to match each different character. With his brilliant acting we never once questioned which character was being portrayed.

In a small quiet staging of one, noises throughout the theatre can often be amplified. Though audience members dropped items or shuffled loudly to the bathroom, Huston was never distracted or phased. His timing, delivery and emotions were always on perfect point. This may be due to Huston’s extensive background in the role, as he has performed A Christmas Carol more than 700 times over the last 28 years, with his performance at The Gladstone nominated for Best Actor for the 2016 theatre season by Ottawa’s Capital Critics’ Circle.

To help break up the story there are multiple musical interludes—we were lucky enough in our performance to have Susan Toman playing classical Christmas tunes on the harp. The musical support changes throughout the run—make sure to check the schedule to see who will be making an appearance at your performance.

An intimate and magical affair, A Christmas Carol will take you out of a theatre surrounded by people and will make you feel as though you are sitting at home reading your favourite Christmas story in front of a warm fire. This performance may become one of our new favourite holiday traditions.

A Christmas Carol continues at The Gladstone Theatre until Sunday, December 22nd, 2019. Shows are at 7:30pm with matinees on Wednesday at 12pm, and on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30pm. Tickets are $24-$40. The show runs about 120 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.