Christmas events

‘Christmas Carol’ harks back to another trying time

Cannon Beach's Coaster Theatre will present, virtually, the Dickens classic as radio theater set during the Great Depression

The year was 1973 and the country was in the throes of an oil crisis, leaving the streets of Cannon Beach empty, its businesses hungry for visitors. Vicki Hawkins, then-owner of the Cannon Beach Gazette, came up with the idea to host a community Dickens Christmas, with shopkeepers and others dressed in Victorian garb. The Coaster Theatre Playhouse, open little more than a year, would host a Dickens play. Hawkins dubbed the event “The Low Lights will be the Highlights of Cannon Beach.”

“We did this for many, many years after the first,” said Jenni Tronier, marketing director for the theater. “Each production was different, written by a different person every year. Sometimes it had carols, sometimes it didn’t. Each year was its own beast.”

And so it is again.

The Coaster Theatre Playhouse began offering a Dickens play at Christmas in 1973. This photo of the cast taking a bow is from sometime in the 1970s. Photo courtesy: Coaster Theatre Playhouse
The Coaster Theatre Playhouse began offering a Dickens play at Christmas in 1973. This photo is from sometime in the 1970s. Photo courtesy: Coaster Theatre Playhouse

The theater closed March 13 — COVID, of course — and since then, the Coaster has put on only one show, a Shakespeare play performed in the park. But winter on the coast is no time for outdoor theater, and besides, said Tronier, “It’s not the same. Theater is meant to be held in those closed quarters, sharing the experience with the stranger next to you.”

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