A Christmas Carol 2017: Chris
This week in The Backstage Chronicles we feature a familiar face to thespians of Fort McMurray - Chris Bowers! Chris is returning to the KTC main stage in the upcoming production of A Christmas Carol directed by Karen Johnson-Diamond, as Robert Cratchit. Chris spends his days surrounded by puppies at the Fort McMurray SPCA, where he made his way from regular volunteer to Kennel Supervisor as part of their staff. He first moved to Fort McMurray from Hamilton, ON six years ago, when his wife, Diana, got a job offer and they were looking for an adventure. "At the time, neither of us were really sure about the move but looking back on it I’m glad we did. Since I’ve started living here, I’ve really had a chance to explore a lot of things that I enjoy – things that I never really had the time or drive to do before back in Ontario. I picked up photography and painting. I’m not really good at either of them, but let’s call them works in progress. We adopted two dogs, Phoebe and River, from the SPCA and they’ve been a great addition to our little family – our pack! I’ve been further developing my skill and love of writing. I have a blog where I write about anything and everything that comes into my head (cjbuzz.com). I’m also happy to say that Keyano theatre has reopened a door I had thought long since closed with acting." In 2013, both Chris and Diana tried out for the KTC production of Les Miserables and were cast in the ensemble. Since then, Chris has been involved with multiple other productions, not only with Keyano Theatre, but also with Theatre; Just Because and ADFA (Alberta Drama Festival Association). A Christmas Carol marks his fourth Keyano production and tenth overall since Les Miserables.
Tell us about the first few weeks of A Christmas Carol rehearsals
"Rehearsals have been fantastic! I love being part of large cast productions and watching all the pieces get put together. For myself, this has been some of the most interesting character work I’ve done. I love the challenge behind trying to figure out what makes your character tick and how they should be interacting with the characters and the world around them. The last few weeks have largely been about that and it’s a great exercise for actors of every experience level to develop their skills. My favourite part though, has been hanging out with my stage family, the Cratchits. They’re a great group – a great family – and they really make me feel better about myself after getting scolded by Scrooge. I will admit, it has been challenging trying to balance this with work, but when you’re doing something you love, sleep can wait!"
How did you get involved in theatre?
"Back in High School, I used to be involved in theatre productions quite frequently. I would audition for roles on stage or do tech and backstage; pretty much anything I could do to be involved. After High School, a lot of those opportunities seemed to dry up and I lost interest in looking for them. It wasn’t something my friends were really interested in at the time. That all changed when I moved here. Both me and Diana has watched a few of the Keyano Theatre shows and were blown away by the production quality. In all honesty, it was Diana’s idea for me to audition for Les Miserables. I’m glad I did though, because they offered me a role and it was one of the best experiences of my life. The relationships you make on stage with the cast and crew can last lifetime."
What are you looking forward to with this season?
"I’m really excited to get on stage and show our audience the amazing talent of the cast and crew of A Christmas Carol. This is truly a great show and we have a lot to show for it – even having been in rehearsals for only a few weeks, things are shaping up to be a great run. We’re a great team and I think it will reflect in our performance. In A Christmas Carol, I’m really looking forward to trying a 'Christmas bowl of Smoking Bishop' that I keep hearing about. Sounds tasty... I think. Really. I should do it for character research. That would be the responsible thing to do. "
Has anything surprised you so far?
"There have been a few surprises, yeah! I love how professional the younger cast members have been so far. They take notes like a boss and are participating on the same level as people 2 and 3 times their age. It’s incredible! Not really a surprise, but I’ve really enjoyed working with my Mrs. Cratchit, Hanna Fridhed, and exploring the nature of our relationship together. I’m constantly amazed at the level of intensity and dedication she brings to every rehearsal – even when she’s exhausted."
How are you spending the holidays?
"In all likelihood, I’ll be spending the holidays working with the dogs and cats at the Fort McMurray SPCA. We have staff working 365 days of the year and we really don’t get a break. If my boss really loves me though, maybe she’ll give Christmas day off (hint hint). Other than that, I will be spending it with my lovely wife Diana and my two fur-children Phoebe and River. The majority of my family is back in Ontario so it’s up to us to make our own traditions here. We’ll be spending our time with close friends and making merry in our own way.
On a finishing note, I would love to encourage anybody who even has the slightest curiosity about theatre to audition for a future play. Give it a shot! You don’t need to be an experienced actor at all. You could have none at all! If the stage isn’t for you, then try backstage, tech, costume design, or one of the other many volunteer positions available. Trust me! It’s worth it."