The Rev. Billy Isenor, rector of St. Augustine’s-Parkland Anglican Church, Spruce Grove, welcomed more than 180 people to a dramatic reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on December 15. The evening in support of the Christmas Hamper Drive of the Spruce Grove Kinettes and Stony Plain Kinsmen, featured CBC Radio One personalities Adrienne Pan, Lydia Neufeld, Janice Johnston, Mark Connolly and Rod Kurtz, who told the timeless tale in five staves or sections.
Emcee Kim Trynacity said the CBC’s tradition of reading A Christmas Carol spans more than two decades. The idea originated with CBC Toronto newsreader Judy Maddren who began an annual project to stage a spoken-word version of A Christmas Carol in 1990, which has raised more than $5 million for local charities across Canada.
“The story of A Christmas Carol (the personal transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge through his encounters with the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come), is as relevant today as it was when Dickens wrote it 175 years ago,” said Trynacity alluding to the economic disparity prevalent in Victorian England society, as it is today.
The show’s producers, St. Augustine’s members Ian Bowden and Aglaia Lessard, began planning the production last June with the support of their fellow vestry members and parishioners who suggested proceeds be given to a local charity. For more than 40 years the Kinettes and Kinsmen have shared the blessings of their community with people in need at Christmas, this year raising more than $450,000 to provide 1,200 families and 4,000 people with toys and gift cards, necessities over the Christmas season and food for a festive meal.
“We are so blessed by the giving of this community; to be able to show the folks receiving these gifts their community cares about them and that they are not alone at this time,” said Ed Berney and Jennifer Lloyd representing the Parkland area Kinsmen and Kinettes.
The production featured the talents of many local musicians, including folk trio Meridian Line: Ian Bowden, Rick Diesbourg and Rick Cormier; barbershop quartet Tag Along: Bill Sykes, Bill Courtis, Dave Jackson and Frank Traviss; the St. Augustine’s-Parkland Anglican Church Choir, led by Aglaia Lessard; renowned organist the Rev. Lorne Manweiler, priest-in-charge of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church, Edmonton; folk singer/songwriter the Rev. Tim Chesterton, rector of St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, Edmonton; and vocalists Victoria Thompson and Hazel Wolfert.
Audience members and performers were treated to festive desserts such as mince and butter tarts, shortbread, spiced apple cider and mulled wine, served during the intermission.