“The main difference between Christmas show audiences and other audiences is the atmosphere that is created,” says Colin Appleton. “The room is decorated for the season and there is a giant glowing tree in the room. You feel the warmth from the cold as soon as you arrive. And people are all in good cheer and happy to be sharing a wonderful night out with friends, family, and co-workers. No other time of year has the same feeling.”
Appleton is the co-writer, director, and part of the cast of Sunflower Mall Santa, the dinner theatre running at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay from November 24 to December 11, before changing venues and moving to the Grand Lake Road Fire Hall (by the Mayflower Mall) for its final four shows from December 15 to 18.
The show was onceived by Colin Appleton and Marty Burt, who also wrote My Hometown Elf, and written by Appleton and Aaron Corbett.
“The premise of the show is that due to economic decline and competition from rival stores, a local Sydney mall (The Sunflower Mall) is forced to make cuts to its budget,” Appleton explains. “In previous years the mall was able to hire on two Santas, but this year they can only afford one. So the mall manager Chloe, played by Gayle Lahey, holds a competition in the mall’s food court to determine who will take the throne as this year’s mall Santa.”
“Myself and Aaron Corbett play the two guys who are competing for the one position available as mall Santa. I play Reginald Cringle, the serious Santa who claims to have family ties to Chris Cringle himself. Corbett plays Bottles, the Santa who is down on his luck. A guy who is trying to get the job so he can have a steady income and not have to rely on collecting beer cans for a living.”
“Holly Reid plays Tracy, Chloe’s niece, and works at almost every store in the mall so that her aunt can save money by not paying anyone else. Melanie Roach is a new member of the cast and she is performing in her first dinner theatre. She plays Snowflake who is Reginald Cringle’s assistant and is dressed as an elf. Todd Marsh plays Bernie Sparrow, a failed musician who has a day job as the mall’s security guard.”
Along with a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings and lashings of comedy, one of the main selling points of this show is the wall-to-wall music.
“Picking the music for the show is one of my favorite parts of writing these shows,” Appleton admits. “At Christmastime you are more restricted because people want to hear lots of Christmas music. However, it’s still fun to come up with cool arrangements and there are some great musicians in the cast who put a lot of time in making sure the music is great.”
“As for songs in the show, there are traditional Christmas tunes like ‘Silver Bells’, ‘Let it Snow’, and ‘Winter Wonderland’,” Appleton says. “The show also features more modern Christmas songs like ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, ‘Run Run Rudolph’, and ‘Jingle Bell Rock’. And of course I stuck in a few non-Christmas treats just to mix it up.”