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Christmas comes early for director of Arts Club comedy

The Day Before Christmas explores family angst with local flare
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Andrew Wheeler, Julie Leung, Jennifer Clement and Daren Dyhengco are featured performers in the Arts Club’s production of The Day Before Christmas.

Chelsea Haberlin has been listening to Christmas music every day since August — and she’s OK with that.

“I love Christmas so much,” says Haberlin, the director of the Arts Club Theatre Company’s holiday show The Day Before Christmas. “As soon as we reach November I’m just like, ‘Can we skip November and get to Christmas.’”

And the cheesier the Christmas music the better, as far as Haberlin is concerned. Think Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

Haberlin, who’s making her Arts Club directorial debut, has been in Christmas holiday mode since the mercury was hovering around 25 C in Vancouver.

Haberlin is also the co-artistic producer and founder of ITSAZOO Productions, known for its gritty and immersive offering, Killer Joe, set in a trailer two years ago.

Summarized as “surviving the perfect holiday disaster,” this new Arts Club comedy is inspired by the playwrights’ mutual disdain for Christmas insanity and the pressure to pull off the “perfect Christmas.”

The Day Before Christmas was received with roaring laughter when tested with a small Arts Club audience last year, says Haberlin. The show’s strong relatability factor and the “rare” concept that it’s set in Vancouver helped drive that enthusiasm.

“It’s a very Vancouver story,” says Haberlin, explaining there will be familiar landmarks peppered throughout the performance.

Lending a relatable authenticity to the role is actress Jennifer Clement who stars as A-type Alex, a perfectionist who is desperately trying to save Christmas while juggling a hectic home and work life.

Hilarity ensues after Alex agrees to throw a wrap party for her movie star friend.

“He is kind of like a George Clooney type,” says Haberlin with a laugh.

The Day Before Christmas strives to be a believable experience for audience members who will feel like part of the family, explains Haberlin.

“You will be wrapped up in the anxiety and fear of the lead character as she navigates the holiday,” says Haberlin, adding having the story told from family matriarch Alex’s perspective is a magical theatre element which she loves. “Alex often breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience. As a director, that’s really fun.”

The Day Before Christmas is at the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, 162 West First Ave., until Dec. 24. Tickets start at $29. More info: 604-687-1644 or visit artsclub.com.