Most of us have said it at least once by now: “I’m looking forward to a break.” That’s exactly what Pacific Theatre’s jolly Christmas Presence offers. At a time in the festive season when we’re eyeing the coming sentimentality and rest, this annual tradition is a welcome prelude.
Featuring a different set of performers each night, Christmas Presence is a semi-organic, holiday assortment of stories, poems, songs and anecdotes, hosted by PT’s Artistic and Executive Director, Ron Reed.
On December 12, musicians included Garth Bowen, Kathleen Nisbet, Robyn Deidger Klassen, Jonathan Perkins, and Rick Colhoun… and the audience. In addition to professional renditions of carols, each of us participated in a sing-a-long. Musical highlights included Bowen’s folk version of the classics, and the stunning voice of soprano Deidger Klassen. To close your eyes when listening to her is to leave – for a few moments – the intimate basement theatre for a grand stage of opulence and beauty.
Between songs, we hear readings of Canadian poetry, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and unusual perspectives on the holy birth from characters such as wise men humbled by a mesmerizing toddler. Reed performed Dickens’ classic last year as a one-man show. To see him on stage again with his clear love of the Christmas message is a treat.
Performers donate their time to Christmas Presence this year, and it shows. The evening feels like a party in a loved one’s living room in the best possible way.
By my count, Pacific Theatre produces some of the most provoking, intriguing theatre in the city. This festive show is a reminder of what the company does so well: make you more kindhearted, more contemplative. It’s a fine way to spend this stretch to Christmas.
Christmas Presence continues through December 21 at Pacific Theatre, and on December 22 at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium in Abbotsford.
Photos by Andrea Loewen.