Leaping off the pages of a children’s Christmas classic to television screens nation-wide on NTV, The Sights Before Christmas shares the real magic of the holidays
A Christmas story brimming with Newfoundland culture and more than a pinch of holiday magic is moving from the pages of a storybook to television screens across the country.
The Sight Before Christmas, a charming story by partners Beni Malone and Marian Frances White released in 2005, has been adapted for television to air this holiday season on Canada’s Superstation NTV. But the spark behind the story that will leap off screens this season began some decades ago, and has been a part of many-a-Christmas since.
“It really all started with Beni Malone, who, 30 plus years ago, wrote a show to perform at Christmastime, which he called The Sights Before Christmas,” shared White, co-writer of the children’s book and producer of the television special.
“His idea, even back then, was that young kids would be introduced to the mummering tradition in the province. He toured that various times, had dozens of shows every Christmas for the past 30 plus years.”
The story follows young Barnaby Doyle, who, like many eager children, plans to stay awake all night to not miss a moment of Christmas magic. Inevitably, as he drifts into sleep, his dreams shift into high gear thanks to a visit from the sparkling Christmas Elf, Evergreen.
It’s a story rich in Newfoundland culture, particularly that of mummering, which White and Malone aim to spread with children at home and abroad.
“’I’m all for bringing Newfoundland’s cultural heritage and history, creatively, bringing it forward and making it relevant today,” says White. “I think that’s what we did here and I feel very confident that people are going to enjoy what they see.”
Lights, Camera, Action
Malone stars alongside newcomers Gabriel Moyes-Vaandering, who plays Barnaby Doyle, while Mila Duelle stars as his young sister Bernadette.
“More than the book this is really based on Beni’s live show. It is in a lot of ways a homage to all the work Beni has done in the province in the last 30-40 years, and it’s not stopping,” White says. “It really couldn’t have happened without so much support of the film industry here. The crew are crucial to making the ‘lights, camera, action’ happen and there’s so much before that getting your set and props. We’ve been living Christmas this whole year.”
While White and Malone have had a special attachment to the shape and scope of this story for decades, it is their hope that – whether in storybook or on screen – The Sights Before Christmas resonates with kids of all ages, becoming a holiday classic for years to come.
“I think what we got is quite unique. I think it will speak to, not just young people, but families too as they start to see mummering traditions,” White shares. “It is so great to be so close to this talent and to watch it evolve over the years. I hope this TV special will live up to that expectation.”
The Sights Before Christmas airs on December 23rd and 24th at 7:30pm on Canada’s Superstation NTV. Visit breakwaterbooks.com to purchase the book.