Review: 2000 Candles (The Arts Engine)

‘Tis the season for the fat man in the red suit to descend upon millions of homes across the globe while riding a sleigh propelled by reindeer travelling faster than the speed of sound. How else is he supposed to visit every home in the span of one night?

‘Tis the season for Christmas pageants gone awry complete with mini-prima donnas playing Mary and that awkward kid chewing
on the ear of his sheep’s costume. ‘Tis the season for 2000 Candles,
a delightfully hilarious set of vignettes celebrating the many ways Christmas is celebrated.

We had dinner with family for the sake of exchanging presents but that also faded away. I experienced Christmas cheer vicariously through friends, bad Christmas specials on TV (as there was never anything else on) and the plague of canned streaming carols and Santa on display at the mall.

Luckily, I had my boyfriend Bob along with me for the show, who comes from a large tradition of family Christmases, who actually likes those TV specials (and happily pointed out all the A Christmas Story references that I sadly missed) and is still on the search for the perfect ‘Our First Christmas’ ornament for his tree. Surely he could help me appreciate what 2000 Candles has to offer.

2000 Candles turns out to be a lovely and hilarious show directed by Tom Carson and starring Jeanine Noyes (also musical director), Andrea Cross, Ins Choi (known for his stand out debut play Kim’s Convenience, winner of the Best New Play award and Patron’s Pick at the Toronto Fringe Festival this past summer) and Richard Peters.

The show is a series of vignettes that dispel holiday myths, explain the history of why Christmas is celebrated the way it is, and spotlight a number of Christmas stories including a lovely and touching rendition of The Happy Prince all blending together with the beautiful vocals of the quartet of performers – making this a musical experience to top off any holiday experience.

I was blown away by the beauty of their voices. These people can sing! The performance started off with choral blending old chants in Latin, Hebrew, and French, then later accompanied with instruments. The stories involved were a sheer delight, starting with the history of Santa Claus and the sheer improbability of Santa making his way around the world in a night, ergo, Santa does not actually exist. (I felt bad for the two little girls sitting in front of me).

Another highlight for me was the breakdown of the standard church Christmas pageant complete with the nervous kid, the stage-stealing star kid, the rival kid, the awkward kid, and the kids backstage who forget that the audience can still hear them.

After reading such rave reviews of Ins Choi’s triumph at the Fringe Festival, I couldn’t help but focus on his performance. I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t aware before that the man had such great vocal talent! His spoken word performance as the beggar throughout the show breaking down stories such as the Nativity scene of Jesus being born in the manger kept me captivated.

Though this lovely revue has run already run its final performance, be sure to grab a few loved ones and take them to the Walmer Centre Theatre to explore other great performances from The Arts Engine to further spark that holiday spirit.


2000 Candles is presented by The Arts Engine and is showing at The Walmer Centre Theatre (188 Lowther Ave.)
– Performances run from December 20 – 23 at 8 pm.
– Tickets are

  • (December 20 and 21 performances) $21.50 for adults, $16.50 for students/seniors in advance and $25 for adults, $20 for students/seniors at the door.
  • (December 22 and 23 performances) $24.50 for adults, $19.50 for students/seniors in advance and $28 for adults, $23 for students/seniors at the door.

– Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-877-700-3130 or online at

Photo of (clockwise) Jeanine Noyes, Andrea Cross, Ins Choi and Richard Peters by Grant Rushton.