Meet Dr. Benjamin Boyce and his wife Mary, the community’s first doctor and pharmacist, in A Kelowna Christmas Carol. Derek Gratz photo

Local history highlights beloved Dickensian tale in new holiday favourite

A Kelowna Christmas Carol comes to the Rotary Centre in December

A beloved tale with a local twist is the perfect way to celebrate the season this December.

The Rotary Centre for the Arts and Kelowna’s New Vintage Theatre present A Kelowna Christmas Carol Dec. 14 to 21.

Set during the Depression and presented with music, Bonnie Gratz’s brand new reimagining of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol weaves local characters based on real people with familiar characters like Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and of course, and Tiny Tim.

“I thought about our city and how generous people are and what would happen if we put some of those people into a Dickensian story?” says Gratz, noting the play’s places and scenarios are all based on historical fact. “It makes it so unique and special because you know these people have lived.”

A historical road well-researched

Visiting the Kelowna museum to research the city’s people, places and events, “I found the best time period to set this kind of tale is the early 1930s,” Gratz says.

Despite challenges of the Depression, for example, “people were demonstrating what sharing and kindness and caring for community could be.”

Local notables

Among the many notable people met through her research, Gratz recalls Dr. Benjamin Boyce and his wife Mary, the community’s first doctor and pharmacist, who figure prominently in her play. Covering a massive area from Vernon to the U.S. border, they treated everyone from all socio-economic backgrounds, often receiving little to no compensation for their work.

“What they did was superhuman,” Gratz suggests. Because they couldn’t have their own children, “I think they really looked at the task of caring for the community as caring for their own family. These kinds of things work well within a Dickensian story.”

A family message

With actors of all ages represented on stage, that family dynamic has grown throughout the rehearsal process, says Gratz, who welcomed historians and characters’ descendants to provide the actors with additional perspective.

Each performance will be hosted by one of those descendants, complementing that timelessness of the story and its message.

“During a really busy time of year when the focus can be on sales, it really puts into perspective what the holiday should be for,” Gratz says. “And for many people, A Christmas Carol really highlights the importance of caring for your fellow man.”

A Kelowna Christmas Carol runs on select nights, Dec. 14 to 21, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25/adult, $20/senior/member and $15/student/child.

***

New Vintage Theatre is a proud member of PACT – The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres founded in 2012 to create and produce new works and remount the classics in captivating ways.

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The Cratchit family – 1930s-style – are among the characters in Bonnie Gratz’s A Kelowna Christmas Carol. Derek Gratz photo

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