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Sunday, April 14, 2024
Jennings: Christmas Carol A total hit

The magical spirit of the season comes to life in Shaw Festival’s production of A Christmas Carol, and the benefits extend well beyond each performance.

Back for a second season, the Christmas classic has been exceptionally popular. It sold out right away last year, and according to Shaw Festival executive director Tim Jennings, only a few tickets remain available for this season.

By the time the curtain falls on the final performance of 2018 on Dec. 23, Jennings said 13,000 to 14,000 people will have come to see the show.

Jennings said A Christmas Carol has become an introduction to the Shaw Festival for many people, and a very successful vehicle to bring new audiences to the summer season.

For example, “44 per cent of the people who came last year had never been to the Shaw before, and 80 per cent of those people came back to see something in the main season.”

This season, 25 per cent of attendees were new to the Shaw, and Jennings expects many of them will return.

The play also extends employment by two months for “cast, technical crews, and front-of-house,” Jennings added, and “brings us closer to a 365 day program.”

Jennings said the play has had “a massive impact on downtown, as people who come to the play are also Christmas shopping, dining, and staying over in various accommodations.”

Janice Thomson, chair of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce said “A Christmas Carol at the Shaw has added to the vibrancy of the town since mid November. When the marquee at the Royal George lights up, indicating a performance is underway, our accommodators, restaurateurs and retailers all see an increase in business.”

“The romantic atmosphere, warm traditions and new retail discoveries are attracting visitors who have already made the Shaw's A Christmas Carol part of their annual family outings,” she added.

Next year, with A Christmas Carol returning, and the addition of the musical Holiday Inn playing at the Festival Theatre, those benefits could be multiplied.

“We look forward to further success for the Shaw and the town when Holiday Inn is added to next Winter's programming. Without question, these additions to the theatre offerings are an integral part of Niagara-on-the-Lake's attraction to visitors and residents,” Thomson said.

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