Christmas Musical always a delight, <em>Saints of Crooked Creek</em> no exception

Posted: December 7, 2009

James Logan and Rose-Marie Wallace's romance captured
audience members' hearts immediately.
Photo by Viktor Karklins.

Saints of Crooked Creek, Caronport’s 17th annual Christmas Musical, was a success once again—more than 6000 came to see Briercrest College and Seminary’s students and community present the Christmas story in the form of a fable set in the turn-of-the-century town of Crooked Creek.

The show was an encore from 2004, but it didn’t disappoint—an entirely new cast and musical score and the touch of first-time assistant artistic directors Sarah Harvey and Melissa Harder made it fresh and new again.

The production was a delight from all counts, from the beautifully hand-painted sets to the talented young actors who brought vibrant life to the story of a rejected stranger who was relegated to a barn just as the Christ child was—and still offered reconciliation and forgiveness to those who didn’t deserve it.

Credit for one of the best performances goes to said rejected stranger, Edward Logan (Ramsay Klassen), who comes to Crooked Creek in search of his long-lost brother, James, only to be driven away by the people of Crooked Creek.

Not only were his vocals remarkable, but his performance was both earnest and genuine, making his character quite real—audience members couldn't help but share his desire for a home.

The romance between the shy, earnest James Logan (Brett Mitchell), the town’s beloved doctor, and the wide-eyed, innocent Rose-Marie Wallace (Melissa Harder) captured audience members’ hearts immediately. None were so memorable, though, as the overstuffed Fanny Filbert (Abigail Jaillet) or the conniving Ichabod Fitch (Ben Ross). Both stole the show again and again and again.

Ichabod Fitch and Fanny Filburt rehearse for
Crooked Creek's pageant.

Jaillet’s priceless facial expressions and high-pitched exclamations about everything from her store’s Christmas cookies to the young woman to whom the doctor must attend immediately were the stuff of the true town drama queen—she drew laughter with nearly every line.

It wasn’t difficult to believe that this was Ross’ fourth Christmas Musical. His portrayal of Ichabod, the hateful old town villain who poses as the down-and-out James Logan in order to convince Edward, James’ long-lost brother, to leave, was the perfect combination of creep and comedian. His facial contortions, nasally warble, and beady-eyed stare made him one of the most memorable characters on stage.

By far the show’s greatest strength, piano keyboard radyo dinle though, revealed what is perhaps the true passion of Briercrest College and Seminary’s Worship Arts department: music that proclaims glory to God.

The highlight was the number at the climax of Act 1, “What Will Tomorrow Bring?” Some shows suffer from one or two excellent singers who carry the show—such has never been the case with Caronport’s Christmas Musical. Each singer’s part was excellently executed, and the harmonies and orchestral accompaniment captured beautifully the uncertainty and distress of Edward Logan’s confusion and the townspeople’s anger.

Crooked Creek's townspeople gather
together for their annual pageant.
Photo by Viktor Karklins.

Another high point was “It’s Christmas Time,” the duet between Edward Logan (Ramsay Klassen) and Rose-Marie (Harder). The depth of emotion in Harder’s eyes and the sweetness of her voice left no doubt that we should watch for her in the future.

The script was laced with both meaning and an appropriate amount of comedy, and artistic director Ron de Jager brought the show’s typical professional polish. This is his eighth Christmas Musical.

Harder commented on her hope for the show: “All of the hours of rehearsals are nothing compared to the impact that this performance may have on one person's life. It is our prayer that people not only see us as actors, dancers and singers, but that they see the love of Christ shining through everything we do!”