After 82 years, “The Christmas Story” at the Church of the Holy Trinity
moves from stage to film
TORONTO — In 1938, Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity received the gift of The Christmas Story Nativity pageant from St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in London, England. It has been performed on stage at Holy Trinity every Advent since.
“This year, with the pandemic, it was impossible to mount a stage production so we made a beautiful film that people can stream and watch from their own couch wherever in the world they live.” said long-time director Susan Watson.
“A series of small miracles aligned to allow us to create this film. ‘Angel’ investors committed seed funds up-front so the project could hire a professional film crew. Volunteer cast members from previous years agreed to work in a totally different medium in the public square while physically distanced and within household bubbles. Even the weather cooperated with sunshine and 18-degree November temperatures on the two shooting days.”
The film is set outside the church, which is one of Toronto’s architectural treasures, and in neighbouring downtown locations. Visually the film acknowledges both the context of the pandemic and the presence of the tent encampment of people experiencing homelessness that currently surrounds the church. The production was edited to a soundtrack of professionally recorded narrators, singers and organist.
The result is a beautiful film that situates the classic story in a modern urban environment.
The Christmas Story 2020: A Pandemic Pageant is available on demand until January 6,2021. Access is by donation via www.thechristmasstory.ca
- Queen Elizabeth and her sister Margaret were taken to this pageant at St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in London during its 1928-38 run.
- The pageant was brought to Toronto by Patricia Frank, daughter of a St. Martin’s vicar.
- Physician Ian Digby, spouse of the director, was the COVID compliance officer on set.
- The film was co-directed and edited by Eric Miller of THALWEG Media.
Susan Watson, Director