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This original 2019 story was sponsored by Vancouver TheatreSports
Heartwarming holiday rom-coms are as essential to Christmas as stockings, shortbread cookies and glow-in-the-dark snowman-themed sweaters. But while many of us love watching these sugary festive flicks––Hallmark is reportedly releasing 24 new ones in 2019––they often deploy a comfort blanket of tinselly tropes that make them ripe for affectionate ribbing.
That’s where Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) comes in. The city’s improv comedy masters produce a giggle-tastic new Yuletide show at their cozy Granville Island theatre every Christmas. And this year’s hotly anticipated edition––opening November 20––turns its funny bone focus on both holiday rom-coms and royal relationships.
“I love Hallmark holiday movies but I also know how much fun it is to parody them,” says virtuoso VTS performer Margret Nyfors, one of the inventive team behind the 2019 show, Merry Kissmas––A Royal Romance. “We’re also adding to the fun this year by combining genres: festive rom-coms and the build-up to a whirlwind royal wedding––will they or won't they?”
Answering that question on stage will be a revolving cast of five performers and one host. And while there’s a lavish wedding to plan for, the nature of improv means that almost anything could happen before the glittering finale unfolds. “Every performance will be different,” says Nyfors. “It all depends on what the performers create and, of course, what the audience suggests.”
It’s this adrenaline-rushing audience participation feature that makes Merry Kissmas a uniquely exciting Vancouver holiday show. “I’m pretty sure the Arts Club doesn’t encourage audiences to shout out suggestions during their performances––although I might be wrong,” says Nyfors with a chuckle.
Keen to have your idea acted out on stage? Nyfors offers some handy advice to wannabe participants. “Definitely suggest something but don’t try to make it funny––that’s our job. It’s usually better to suggest everyday things and settings and let us build on that. We absolutely love suggestions, though, so keep them coming––and keep them clean.”
And keep in mind that audience participation is always entirely voluntary at this family-friendly VTS show. “You don't have to shout out suggestions to have great time. And we won't pick on you or drag you on stage––that’s more of a stand-up comedian thing. We want everyone to enjoy themselves here. And if you do volunteer to come up on stage, we will always look after you.”
In fact, you might head home after the show feeling as warm and fuzzy as a twinkle-eyed character from a Hallmark Christmas rom-com––which would suit Nyfors perfectly. “I watch at least one of these movies every day over the holidays,” she says. “I think we all love them because they’re charming, innocent and also a little bit of mindless cotton candy––in a good way!”
Merry Kissmass––A Royal Romance runs at the Improv Centre on Vancouver’s Granville Island (1502 Duranleau Street) from November 20 to December 24.
Tune in and tinsel up with
Margaret Nyfors' five favourite holiday rom-coms:
A Christmas Prince (and sequel A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding)
The Princess Switch
A Royal Christmas
The Holiday Calendar
A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale