(Krisalyn Bell (front left) singing during Arts Collective Theatre’s Home For The Holidays A Celebration of Christmas Concert at All Saints’ Anglican Church in downtown Windsor on Friday, December 13, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
Windsor’s Arts Collective Theatre’s plan to prepare the city for the holidays, with its Home For The Holidays, A Celebration of Christmas Concert, truly enchants. If not mostly for the quality of the entertainers it has lined up for its two days of concert singing along with food in the form of a bake sale and raffle.
Home is a most appropriate theme for this unique Christmas Celebration if only because the event takes place at ACT’s new home. The theatre company has a permanent address at downtown’s All Saints Church, one of the oldest churches in the nation.
It is also the first permanent residence for the five-year old theatre company with a conscience. And that social conscience was more than evident on its choice of hymns and songs Friday night.
ACT lined up some of the beloved actors and singers from its previous works, including the popular Michael Rice, better known as the cowardly lion in its production of the Wiz. Rice will soon be seen in ACT’s next mayor production, Aida, the Timeless Love Story, which will run from April 17 to 26 at the Capitol Theatre.
Rice and the other ACT veterans were joined by the theatre company’s new friends, newcomers to an ACT stage, such as Krisalyn Bell and Lakshmi Tharuvaj. Bell, who has sung in church choirs before, tells Eyes on Windsor that this is her first time appearing as a solo performer.
In a night with so many highlights one was particularly memorable. Courtlin Ducre, Cheri McCurdy, Leslie McCurdy and Linda McCurdy took the inspirational song Amen to new heights.
ACT President and creative director Chris Rabideau tells Eyes on Windsor such songs would have been performed in the church over a hundred and fifty years ago, particularly as American slaves, traveling during the last days of the Underground Railroad arrived in Windsor seeking sanctuary. It is a fact, he says, that really moved him to be in the same building so many years later.
Rabideau also served as the evening’s narrator with reflections and stories adding continuity to the evening and explaining what the songs mean to the Christmas tradition.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the night was the incredible range of voices and the equally incredible range of the singers. Each song was personally selected by each singer and offered an incredible trip through some of the most traditional and beloved songs of the 20th Century.
There is nothing better than being home with old and new friends. The organization itself relishes the potential to bring people together. Its overarching goal is to enhance the well-being of the Windsor Essex community through theatre education, mentorship, and increasing social justice issues awareness.
Although, these are certainly noble goals, having them as the guiding philosophy has allowed ACT to live up to its mandate with exceptional programs. Home for the Holidays is proof of its ability to charm and delight while also focusing on its message.
Saturday’s concert (Dec 14) is scheduled for 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm at All Saints Church, 330 City Hall Square W. For more information visit the ACT Windsor Presents Home For The Holidays A Celebration of Christmas Concert event listing or visit http://actwindsor.ca
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.