Remember the thrill of flipping through the Sears Christmas Wish Book or eagerly anticipating those holiday TV specials? Relive memories from your childhood or experience some anew at Timmy’s Happy Christmas, 1974.
With stories and music guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit, the Sid Williams Theatre Society is thrilled to present this heartwarming Christmas adventure on Wednesday, November 29, as part of their Blue Circle Series.
Join Tim Tamashiro, author, jazz vocalist and radio personality, as he transports audiences back in time to witness the holiday season through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy, when the magic of childhood reigned supreme.
“At its core, Timmy's Happy Christmas, 1974 is a celebration of pure, unadulterated joy,” says Tamashiro. He reflects on a time before the internet when the Sears catalogue held the promise of dreams fulfilled and crayons were wielded to circle coveted toys. According to him, these emotions still resonate.
“Even though the show is set in 1974, it really is a timeless show about that feeling of being a child during Christmastime…. We'll never be able to relive them fully, but this is maybe a couple of hours where you can experience it again.”
For Tamashiro the show is a deeply personal endeavor. Weaving a tapestry from childhood memories, he combines his radio expertise and musical talent to create a performance that draws inspiration from the power of the pauses in music.
“I'm a former radio host for CBC, so I know that the spaces between the songs are as powerful, if not more powerful, than the song itself,” explains Tamashiro. “Being a host, I was lucky enough to learn how to write scripts and create stories in ways that were meaningful for the audience so that they could lean into the music a little bit differently.”
He acknowledges the influences of artists like Carol Burnett, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra have left an indelible mark, resulting in a performance that pays homage to the golden age of variety entertainment.
“I remember being a kid and my mom always having some sort of a variety show on television… A performer would come out and she'd say, ‘Now that's the way to perform, Tim. That is a great entertainer.’ So, it’s really lovely to be able to see the variety aspect of the past come together now in this show.
“There's nothing like a story to make a connection with people – to be able to come out, to tell a story and then actually stop the story for a second and react to somebody in the audience, give them a bit of a hard time or talk with them for a second. It's really a conversation with people, just to be able to connect with people like we're all in a living room.”
Tamashiro says crafting the actual show didn’t take that long, only about a month. He knew he had certain songs and images he wanted to use and built the performance around them. One of the biggest challenges, in fact, was trying to track down a copy of a 1974 Wish Book.
“Obviously, there's not a lot of them around. I did find one that was available for sale on eBay, and it was in Saskatchewan. I had to pay 50 bucks for it!”
After writing the show, the first performance took place in 2019 at Calgary’s Ironwood Stage & Grill. “We had a couple hundred people there, and everybody went crazy for it. At that point, the good people at the Jack Singer Concert Hall here in Calgary said they loved the idea and wanted to help me develop it to make a tour capable on larger stages. So they did, but unfortunately the whole COVID thing happened, and that put things on hold for a couple of years.”
As with so many people, Tamashiro felt the pandemic’s impact on his daily life. Unlike most of us, he took the opportunity to become a Buddhist monk.
“It really challenged my own understanding of what mental health was and how it was affecting me. So I turned to Buddhism as my method of being able to understand my own suffering…. Eventually, I was presented with this opportunity to go to Thailand and to ordain with a group of men at a monastery.”
After a month there “living in robes,” he returned with a new perspective on life and work. “There was no longer a feeling of me being the performer on stage with my band. Instead, I look at it saying, ‘OK, we are just a group of people together, sharing joy with each other.’ That’s a very different feeling.
“I can tell you from a nuanced level, I notice the difference. I can't speak on the audience's behalf.”
Whether they see a difference or not, he promises audiences will get something out of the performance.
“The atmosphere is ‘let's spend some time together and forget our problems,’ and that's pretty well achieved right from the first moment. Within seconds, everybody is literally in their seats leaning in to have fun and share joy together. That's really what my intention is and what I hope the audience can achieve from that…bring your family and friends and be prepared to laugh!”
Feel the joy, rediscover the magic of Christmas and embrace the enduring power of nostalgia.