120-member cast takes stage in ‘Finding Christmas’

Emily, played by Karissa Kern, and Uncle Charlie, played by Don Hunter, rehearse a scene from Finding Christmas, directed by Carrie Beauchamp of Hidden Talents. Glenn Ogilvie

Cathy Dobson  

She’s the writer, music arranger, director and the creator of one of the biggest Christmas shows of the season in Sarnia.

Yet Carrie Beauchamp downplays her role and credits her cast and crew for producing an amateur show that rivals professionals.

“These are people who are dedicated and wonderful to work with,” says Beauchamp. “These are just regular Sarnians in regular jobs. But the talent in Sarnia is amazing.”

Beauchamp began producing a local Christmas show 19 years ago, shortly after establishing Hidden Talents, a business that specializes in kids’ musical theatre.

At age 22 and a few years after graduating from St. Patrick’s, she decided to put her musical training to work.

“I played piano all through high school,” she said. “And I had lots of hands-on training with Theatre Sarnia and Bluewater Musical Productions.

“It all started when a friend and I both wanted to do a show and we both love Christmas.”

They kept it simple that first year with a few performers singing on the library auditorium stage. “People really liked it and we just grew from there,” she said.

Every Christmas since 1995, Beauchamp has written the script and chosen the musical arrangements, adapting Christmas favourites to her production. Every year, the show has become more complex with elaborate sets, Victorian costumes and a bigger cast.

This year’s production is called “Finding Christmas” and tells the story of a little girl named Emily who discovers the magic of Christmas through her grumpy great Uncle Charlie who tells of a Christmas Eve on the frontlines of war.

“Finding Christmas” has a cast of 120 performers, ranging in age from six to 78 years.

Together they comprise Beauchamp’s Nightingale Chorus and perform 32 songs tied together by Emily’s story. Eight-year-old Karissa Kern who has already participated in Hidden Talent’s summer theatre camps plays Emily.

Beauchamp, who works full time with Hidden Talents, is now in rehearsals daily with “Finding Christmas.”

“I cannot believe it’s been 19 years already and we always pretty well sell out,” she said.

After the Imperial Theatre was restored in 1999, Beauchamp’s Christmas production moved from the library stage and has become a seasonal staple.

 

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: “Finding Christmas,” the annual Hidden Talents Christmas show.

WHEN:  Dec. 10 -13 at 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

WHERE:  Imperial Theatre

TICKETS: Adults, $30, seniors $26, students $23. Call 519-344-SHOW.