'Sparkling' cast gives a sparkling performance

Posted: December 9, 2008

Jennifer KreftingIf the crowds were any indication, Sparkling Water at Patawash Pass, Caronport's 16th annual Christmas Musical production, was an exuberant success—nearly 8,000 people trooped through the doors of the Hildebrand Chapel to see our students (accompanied by a full orchestra) sing, dance, and act the Christmas story against the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains of the Canadian Yukon.

Though nearly every aspect of the show was impressive—from the hand-painted sets and back-lit stars to the beautiful seamwork on the costumes—vocals stood out as the show’s primary strength. A few lead soloists stood out as performers to watch for as they move beyond the walls of Briercrest.

Jennifer Krefting, who played female lead Nurse Nelly, dazzled the audience with her rich soprano voice as she sang original songs “He Has Seen Me” and “All Will Be Well.”

Lydia-Ann LevesqueLydia-Ann Levesque, though she had the smaller role of Mary in the nativity scene, moved the audience no less with a hauntingly beautiful performance of “I Wonder as I Wander.”

The comedic part of the performance fell to the men—though all of the Mounties were amusing with their “heroic” antics and shameless flirtatiousness, none brought quite so many laughs as Major Wilford Wilson, played by Todd Klassen. This was his first major theatrical role, and he seemed to come into his own—his vocal acting was second to none. “It was a blast!” he said later, beaming.

Abigail JailletWithout doubt, though, the bumbling Hyde brothers stole the show. They played a comedic duo of villains who “borrow” the medicine bottles from the hospital so they can sell “Sparkling Water” from a spring in the pass.

Jason Rahardjo played Don Hyde, the “mastermind” of their operations who could never quite hold a plan together. Ben Ross played Tim Hyde, whose Cape Breton-accented “DAAAAaaaan,” (Don) is sure to stay with audience members until next year’s performance. (If it doesn’t, they’ll remember how many times he made them laugh out loud—from when he sported a wide grin and a sandwich board that said “Sparklin Watr” to when he sat in a striped uniform on the floor of a jail cell, tunneling his way out with an old spoon.)

Ben Ross Jason Rahardjo Andre Harden’s script was light and funny as usual, so it did not disappoint—nor did the direction of Ron de Jager, who acted as the choral and orchestral conductor for the evening. This was his seventh Christmas Musical.

Most significant for de Jager was the evening’s intent: it was all a “great big sacrifice of our abilities and talents…to God,” he said. “My hope is that people will see that.”

In the first act, Nurse Nelly’s insistence that Jesus was the only one who could save them from a devastating epidemic hinted at the gospel message. In the second act, majestic arch-angels and a humble nativity scene that featured Joseph pounding determinedly at the door of a stable confirmed it, ensuring that audience members would not forget the message of Christmas—the coming of their King, Jesus.