If there is one theme that rings true over the holiday season, it is tradition. People travel across the country and the continent to join their friends and families and engage in both modern and conventional customs.
Here in Ladysmith, we have a few traditions of our own, such as Light-Up and the Christmas Lights Cruise. And in a small community hall just on the outskirts of town, we have the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular, created five years ago by Ladysmith’s own Katy Bowen-Roberts.
“I went to England to perform and was in something similar to this show and decided I wanted to create more work for performers here,” she said. “We have very few paid contracts that exist in B.C.”
And so, along with musical director and arranger James Mark and choreographer Shawna Parry, a brand-new show is written and cast each year. A group of dedicated local volunteers transform the Cedar Community Hall into a beautifully festive setting for some yuletide fun and help out during performances. Proceeds from the ticket sales fund the cost of the show.
This year’s production, with a budget of $115,000, features a cast of 14 — five musicians, five dancers and four singers. Auditions are usually held in May or June in Vancouver, and the script is sent out one month in advance of rehearsals, which occur over a short 10-day period.
The result is a perfect blend of Christmas carols, readings and classic medleys from the 50s to the 80s. Tunes by Buddy Holly and Michael Jackson will get you tapping your feet, while the more soothing tones of the Nutcracker Ballet and Bizet’s Carmen will mesmerize.
“It’s lots of sparkle and dazzle and constant change from scene to scene,” said Bowen-Roberts. “It keeps four-year-olds entertained just as well as the 90-year-olds.”
There are a few variables that make the YPCS one of the highest caliber stage productions to see anywhere between Nanaimo and Chemainus, the foremost being the amazing costumes (which are imported from the U.K.) and the quality of the performers, who hail from as far away as Toronto and New York.
This year’s show features the vocal talents of Kaitlin Lane, Dana Hunter, Felix Leblanc and Todd Jang Delaney.
Barry Miller (pianist), David Baird (double bass), Steve Jones (sax and guitar) and Michael Wright (percussionist) provide the musical accompaniment for the entire show, along with director James Mark, whose prowess on the violin should not be missed.
Dancers Sarah Ballard, Emily Fraser, Marianne Mandrusiak, Claire Wardle and Parry tap, tango, jive, moon-walk and boogie across the stage in perfect rhythm and lend their voices to the production, giving many of the numbers a rich, beautiful sound and wonderful harmonies.
Bowen-Roberts attributes much of the motivation behind the production to a childhood spent in Ladysmith.
“It’s a real family event for me and my family, and it has become a tradition for a lot of family and friends,” she said. “My family always had a big Christmas. White Christmas was our movie and that theme comes through the show every year.”
If the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular isn’t a part of your family’s holiday tradition, you should consider joining the thousands of local residents and visitors who flock to the Cedar Community Hall every year while there is still a handful of tickets left.
Tickets cost $33 for adults and $24 for students and are available through the Port Theatre. Call 250-754-8550 for details.