Richard's story of the revival of 2000 Candles

It’s 10AM Monday, December 13, 2007.

I remember the exact day because the Toronto District Christian High Christmas Staff Party was the Thursday previous, but more on that later…

I usually take public transit up to teach at the high school.

Today I elected to drive.

I usually allow just enough time to arrive at school with only a few minutes wiggle room.

Today I had an hour to spare.

If I TTC up to school, I grab a coffee at the Second Cup at Bloor & Spadina. If I drive, it’s a Grande Bold from the Starbucks at Bathurst & Bloor.

If I hadn’t elected to alter my plans, I would never have bumped into In-Surp Choi, (or ‘Ins’ as he is more commonly known). I’d love to say I heard a voice telling me to change my plans.In reality, I’d felt conviced that I should catch up on marking.

I’m rather surprised to see Ins of all people here, as he’s in the middle of his second year at the Stratford Festival. He explains his wife and newborn daughter had a doctor’s appointment, and he had just dropped them off.

Ins and I have done a number of shows together, including a tour traveling across the country performing the Bible in two hours. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together, but if I was stuck on an island and could only bring ten people, I know he’d be one of them. This morning, Ins seems a little agitated.

“Do you have a minute?” He asks.

Oddly enough, I have sixty of them.

Ins tells me about a group that had toured a Christmas show to his church the day before. From the set, orchestra, lighting, and backstage team walking about on headset, he could tell these people had poured a lot of energy (and money) into this production, so he was hopeful. But then he watched it.

“It was bad. Really bad. I couldn’t sleep last night, Thinking about it.”

My ears perk up. I hadn’t been able to sleep three nights earlier. At our staff Christmas function I’d performed a piece I’d written for another show the two of us had worked on called “2000 Candles”. I hadn’t been able to sleep that night, mulling over how badly I wanted to do that show again.

Ins went on. “I couldn’t sleep I was so angry.”

Angry?

“Yeah. Here are these really well intentioned people trying their best to do a Christmas show that isn’t any good, when we have a show we know really works, but we can never do it.”

Can’t we?

The words are out of my mouth before I can catch them. “2000 Candles” was originally mounted by Brookstone Performing Arts in 2000. It was so popular, it was subsequently remounted over the next two Advent seasons. But Brookstone went through a financial meltdown and now exists mostly on paper. The show, it seems died with it.

So who owns “2000 Candles”? I imagine those who helped to create it: Tom Carson, Dennis Hassell, Jeanine Noyes, Ins, and myself. The dissolution of the company was an incredibly painful one. Perhaps the rebirth of this show might help in the healing process.

Ins and I spend the next half an hour talking about our thoughts for a new production. By the time I have to head to class we have decided to talk to the rest of the creative team.

Two days later, in one of those strange twists that I have come to pay close attention to, before Ins or I have spoken to anyone about our idea, I receive an email from the original Musical Director of “2000 Candles”, Jeanine Noyes;

I mentioned the idea of remounting “2000 Candles” to Tom today. He said he was completely in. He wants to direct and produce it too. What do you guys think?

What do I think? I think God works in mysterious ways.

What does Christmas mean to you?