Christmas Carol Chronicles, Part XXVII

One of the most exciting things about this production of A Christmas Carol is the number of new faces who have joined the acting company.  Some have moved to our community from communities across Canada and the US, but one has made an even longer journey.  Hanna Fridhed, playing Belle, came to us all the way from Sweden.

How does a beautiful young lady from Sweden end up in Fort McMurray and on the stage at Keyano Theatre?

Almost eight years ago, I spent a year in Australia, where I met my husband. He grew up here and after I finished my degree least year, I decided to make the move across the pond. A friend of mine, Kari, works as the front of house manager at Keyano and so I volunteered as an usher during Les Miserables last season. I was blown away! When I heard it was community theatre, I immediately wanted to audition – and I am so happy I did!

Is this your first theatre experience, or did you participate in drama back in your home country?

Since moving here, I’ve been constantly baffled – and slightly jealous – when Canadians speak of drama class. I always wanted to act, to be a part of the theatre world, but it was something foreign and strange in my small coastal hometown, it simply wasn’t done. When I went to university, I discovered the student theatre and was instantly hooked. I did a little bit of acting, a little bit of directing and eventually ended up as the chairperson of the theatre– and I loved every second of it, taxing as it might have been. I’ve been longing to get back to the theatre ever since.

What has been the biggest surprise of this experience?

Besides the warm welcome and the enthusiasm surrounding the production, what surprised me most was the professionalism of it all. The skill of the cast and crew, the knowledge of the technical team, the overall investment in this production is something I have never experienced before. I am extremely grateful to be a part of something that has only ever been the stuff of dreams to me.

What role has this community theatre journey played in helping you feel more connected to the community?

Since moving here, I have struggled with finding my place within the community. Finding a purpose and a sense of belonging can be surprisingly difficult when you’re not allowed to work or attend classes. I was always hearing about the great opportunities this town has to offer, but it was not until being a part of Keyano Theatre that I realized the true meaning of it. This production and everyone involved has become extremely dear to me, and I’ve gotten to know some extraordinary people I would never have met before.

Is there a scene in A Christmas Carol that you look forward to the most?

How ever do I choose! There are so many! There is a moment at the very beginning of the second act when Scrooge is sprinkled with a peculiar taste of Christmas spirit. His surprise and astonishment – and the tiny oh! – always makes me laugh. On the other side of the spectrum, Scrooge’s realization that he has alienated himself from the games and cheer he could have been a part of, his longing for the warmth and happiness his choices in life has left unavailable to him, leaves me deeply touched every time.

If you were to pick three words to capture what the overall experience has meant to you, what would they be?

Laughter, belonging, discovery – all three has been present to me since this journey started, and even though it has been challenging at times, I would not trade this experience for anything.

Four public performances of A Christmas Carol are happening next week: on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and one matinee on Saturday. Tickets are available through Keyano Box Office.


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