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Toronto Christmas Pageant Goes Online And COVID-safe For Its 83rd Season

Toronto Christmas Pageant Goes Online And COVID-safe For Its 83rd Season

The Christmas Story at the Church of the Holy Trinity has been reinvented into a film presenting the classic Nativity story against the backdrop of life in an urban centre in the middle of a pandemic.

This year, we are especially pleased to present The Christmas Story 2020: A Pandemic Pageant. The film will have its streaming premiere on December 11 at 7 p.m., a second streaming event on December 19th at 1 p.m, and on-demand availability from December 11 onward. Tickets to the screenings and for on-demand access are by donation ($10 suggested). Tickets will be available via www.thechristmasstory.ca.

"Back in September, we wondered how we could possibly safely stage the pageant," said longtime Director Susan Watson. "We knew COVID-19 required a different approach to presenting our pageant for its 83rd season. A series of small miracles aligned to allow us to create a film for the first time."

"Angel" investors who committed seed funds up-front allowed the project to hire a professional film crew. Enough performers from the usual two volunteer casts were willing to stage the pageant outside with physically-distanced blocking and within household bubbles. Even the weather cooperated with sunshine and 18-degree November temperatures on the two shooting days.

"But our biggest coup was landing a real baby to play Jesus," said Watson. "This year The Christmas Story really is a pandemic pageant. A quirk of the film is that the performers playing Mary and Joseph change between various scenes. The only way we were able to safely have a real baby was to persuade the parents to dress up in a separate set of Mary and Joseph costumes and play the key scenes that involve the infant Jesus."

Watson worked with Eric Miller of THALWEG Media to produce the film. Miller came with a track record working on another challenging church project - a documentary about a 40-day Jesuit Truth and Reconciliation canoe trip.

She recruited her spouse, physician Ian Digby, to be the COVID compliance officer on set. Safety measures included pre-shoot and on-set screening, temperature checks, hand sanitation, physical distancing and mandatory mask wearing when the camera was not rolling.

True to its roots, the film incorporates the professional sound recording of the narration, carols and organ music, and the gorgeous costumes the stage production is known for.

The result is a beautiful film which situates the classic story in a modern urban environment. You will see The Christmas Story you love with fresh eyes.



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