Kick off the Hoilday Season on the right foot with 'A Christmas Carol'

It won’t be long before homes are made Christmas cozy with the scent of pine, the sound of carols and the warmth of family. Newmarket-Aurora-East Gwillimbury residents are invited to celebrate this festive time with The Very Useful Theatre Company and Charles Dickens. Now a Christmas tradition across the country, a dramatic reading of Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ will be presented at New Hope Methodist Church on Sunday, Dec. 8, starting at 7 p.m. A portion of the proceeds raised will go to the Newmarket Food Pantry – in true Dickens’ fashion. Lots of free parking.
The production of A Christmas Carol features well-known dramatic personalities – the talented Readers include (in order of appearance) Phil Dionne of Newmarket; Zara Stuart-Jones of Aurora; Bruce Williamson of Aurora; Judi Cragg of Newmarket and wrapping up this festive delight is Aurora’s Ken Lloyd.
The Master of Ceremonies is none other than the well-known and well-loved Charles Beer of Newmarket. It is sure to be an evening not to be missed.
The music, which is such an important part of the dramatic reading of ‘A Christmas Carol’ the well-known and popular singing group, ‘Take Note Vocal Ensemble’. This singing of traditional Christmas music adds so much to the evening and the reading!
For more information on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Newmarket, please call the ticket hotline and talk to the friendly Joanne at 905-727-3290. Tickets are only $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and children over 12. Mark this date on your calendar and don’t hesitate to order your tickets and start the season off on the right foot!

This Years Presenters & Readers



Master of Ceremonies

As Master of Ceremonies, Charles Beer brings a lot to this festive evening. Charles really needs no introduction. He is a Minister, CEO, Chief of Staff, Commissioner, Executive Director – with over 40 years of leadership experience in government and not-for-profit organizations, Charles brings extraordinary skills and experience in public policy and issues advocacy to your service. Charles spent 23 years in the Ontario government, in politics and public service. He was Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs, MPP for York North for nine years, Executive Director of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and a senior public servant in the Intergovernmental Affairs, Finance and Citizenship portfolios. Charles and his wife, Mary Anna, a retired teacher, live in Newmarket.


Phil Dionne 


Phil Dionne has been an actor on the community stage in York Region for more than 30 years. You may have seen him in any number of productions at The Curtain Club, Theatre Aurora, Newmarket Stage Company and Old Town Hall Players, but he always had a special place in his heart for Theatre on Main run by Ross and Jacquie Bayley. It is in their memory that he is happy to perform this reading of ‘A Christmas Carol’. "God bless us, everyone.”


Zara Stuart-Jones


Zara has been involved in Community Theatre in York Region for over 35 years having performed on the stages of a number of local theatres. Recent credits include: ‘Annie in The Heart as it Lived’, (Theatre Aurora); Queenie in ‘Opal's Million Dollar Duck’ (N.S.C.) and several roles for The Silver Stars Drama Group at The Aurora Seniors' Centre.


Bruce Williamson


Bruce is excited to be a part of the Christmas Carol Reading this year. He has written, directed, and performed in theatres in Toronto, and throughout York and Durham region. Bruce’s directorial debut was ‘Crimes of The Heart’, 25 years ago, right here with The Old Town Hall Players, and most recently he directed ‘It Takes A Village’, with InspiraTO Festival at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto.


Judi Cragg


In Ottawa, Judi Cragg performed with the Orpheus Musical Theatre and in a cabaret group for several years. After moving to the GTA, she was on stage with the Scarborough Players and Scarborough Music Theatre, as well as performing in An Evening on Broadway at Herongate Barn Dinner Theatre. After many years away, she has recently directed ‘Stepping Out’ for Theatre Aurora, ‘Fade to Black’ for South Simcoe Theatre (Four Play Festival) and ‘Hilda’s Yard’ for Markham Little Theatre. In November, she appeared as Judge Heath in ‘The Night of January 16th’ (MLT). At present, Judi is producing the upcoming ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’ for Theatre Aurora and is on their board of directors (Sales).


Kenneth Lloyd


Ken is a long time resident of Aurora.  Retired teacher and later principal, Ken enjoyed acting, as well as directing and working backstage.  He is a three-time winner of a best actor Thea award, as well as being nominated several other times. A few years ago he appeared as Scrooge on stage in the Newmarket Theatre, in Marquee’s production of  “A Christmas Carol”, for which he was nominated as best leading actor.  He has directed several musicals, including “My Fair Lady”, “ Jesus Christ Superstar”,  “Blood Brothers” and “Pirates of Penzance”, all with Theatre Aurora.  He also directed “Oliver” for Queensville Players, for which he was nominated for a Thea as Best Director of a Musical. 




Net Proceeds to be shared with The  Newmarket Food Pantry

Why not start the holiday season right? And what better way than attending "A Dramatic Reading of a Christmas Carol with Music" read by five well known personalities a truly Dramatic performance:

A Christmas Carol was written in 1843 a time of notorious poverty known as "the hungry forties". You can help us raise funds for the Newmarket Food Pantry by attending this wonderful story of transformation and redemption.


Produced by: The Very Useful Theatre Company

Helping Community Help Itself!

Start the Holiday Season Right! 

A Dramatic Reading of "A Christmas Carol"

with music featuring Christmas Carols sung by:

“The Irene Ilic Singers” with Soprano Irene Ilic

Sunday December 3, 2017 at 7:00 p.m   .  

New Hope Methodist Church, 

337 Queen Street, Newmarket

Tickets:  $20  for Adults           

             $15  for Seniors/Students

             Children under 12 years of age Free/Group rates available 

A Christmas Carol

Our 2018 Readers 


DIONNE  Actor/Director

Phil Dionne has been on the stage in York Region for 55 years. He has appeared in dramas, comedies and musicals over that time. Many people would have seen his performances for The Old Town Hall Players, Newmarket Stage Company and The Curtain Club in Richmond Hill, but a special place in his heart will always be reserved for Theatre on Main and the productions he produced, directed and performed there with Ross and Jacque Bailey

Bill has been a Newmarket resident and business owner since 1983.  Bill has worked in the financial industry since 1970 and services his clients under the HollisWealth name on Leslie St.  Bill and his wife Bonnie believe in giving back to their community.  He has served on several Boards including Crime Stoppers, and  has been a part of several community organizations and most recently initiated the concept and support of the HollisWealth Story Pod to Riverwalk Commons.


MCTAVISH  Hollis Wealth          

KENNETH LLOYD Actor/Director

Ken is a  retired teacher and later principal in Aurora. He is a three-time winner of a best actor Thea award, as well as being nominated several other times. He has appeared as Scrooge on stage  in Marquee’s production of  “A Christmas Carol”, and was nominated as best leading actor.  He has directed several musicals, including “My Fair Lady”, “ Jesus Christ Superstar”, with Theatre Aurora.  He also directed “Oliver” for Queensville Players, for which he was nominated for a Thea as best director of a musical.  


Gary has spent the last four decades involved in the field of energy and sustainability. An entrepreneur, business owner and professor emeritus of Building Sciences, he continues to give workshops and presentations in these areas both at home and internationally. An ordained Catholic Clergy (Diaconate), he ministers at St. John Chrysostom church in Newmarket. He thinks he is retired.  His wife Helen isn’t so sure.




Barb is so pleased to be invited to participate in this wonderful annual event. She has been involved with a number of community theatre groups in York Region and currently sits on the board at Theatre Aurora.  Barb has performed on stage at Theatre on Main, Theatre Aurora and the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.  She has also produced, directed and been  costume designer with various groups. Merry Christmas to all.

Irene Ilic

& the Studio Singers 


Irene Ilic, Soprano, received her Master's Degree in Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and has performed a variety of operatic and music theatre roles in the U.S and Canada. She has been a guest soloist with several Canadian choirs and orchestras, including Tafelmusik, the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Kingston Symphony, the Tallis Choir and others. Ms. Ilic is quite active as a music festival adjudicator and has a thriving private teaching practice in Newmarket. She is a member of teaching organizations (NATS and ORMTA) and is founder and director of the Newmarket Voice Festival which just celebrated its 22th year. Many of her students have starred in professional musical theatre productions, won the Gold Medal for the highest mark in Ontario on a Royal Conservatory of Music exam, and have gone on to pursue professional performing and teaching careers of their own.


the Studio Singers


Stéphane Arcand is a Grade 12 student currently attending École secondaire catholique Renaissance in Aurora. He has studied voice for six years and completed his Grade 8 RCM exam. In addition to singing, Stéphane plays the saxophone, the guitar and the piano. He is very passionate about music and loves performing on stage. He has performed at various events such as the Newmarket Voice Festival and has won several scholarships. He wishes to continue his studies in music and pursue music as a career someday.

Pianist Marney, Stéphane, Allyson & Robyn - Photo by Jeanette Lawson.


Robyn MacDonald has loved singing and performing for as long as she can remember. She enjoys training with her vocal coach Irene Illic and has received many awards, her favorite being a gold medal for her grade 2 RCM exam. She loves to perform in musicals with some of her favorite roles being Jane Banks in Mary Poppins, Miss Pennywise in Urinetown, and many more. Robyn is very excited to share her Christmas spirit with you all tonight, and she hopes you enjoy!



Allyson is thrilled to be part of this special presentation of the Christmas Carol. A musical theatre performer since the age of seven, Allyson loves to sing and was recently awarded the Ontario Regional Gold Medal for Level 6 Voice by the Royal Conservatory of Music. Allyson is very grateful to be the student of such a talented vocal coach, Irene Ilic. Allyson loves the Christmas season and has a great appreciation for traditional music. As an accomplished pianist and ARCT student, it is no surprise that her favourite holiday pastime is when the family gathers around the piano to play and sing Christmas carols. Allyson would like to wish everyone a very, Merry Christmas!




Marney Curran is in great demand as an accompanist for festivals, RCM exams and recitals. She has her A.R.C.T. and a Bachelor of Sacred Music degree. She is currently the accompanist at Country Day School in King and Music Director at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Newmarket. She teaches piano and theory in Newmarket. 

The Very Useful Theatre Company would like to thank Irene Ilic and her Studio Singers for graciously taking part in this event!

Designed by DPK Design 

Festival Volunteers


Interested in Theatre but not as an actor, playwright, or director? The Very Useful Theatre Company is seeking Volunteers to support the third annual One-Act Play Festival.  Let us know how much time you have, we are seeking all levels of support, a few hours once or a full Festival support position.

No experience necessary!

We support High School Volunteer hours as well.


 “We would like acknowledge that the Town of Newmarket is located over lands originally used and occupied by the First Peoples of the Williams Treaties First Nations and other Indigenous Peoples and thank them for sharing this land. We would also like to acknowledge the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation as our close neighbour and friend, one that we strive to build a co-operative and respectful relationship with”.

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