Joe Stones went to see A Christmas Carol at the Rialto Theatre two years ago and loved it. Little did he know that two years later he’d find himself smack dab in the middle of the Christmas Carol action.
The 12-year-old Kirkland resident plays Tiny Tim in the production that opens at the Rialto Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Holiday music plays a significant role in this version of the Charles Dickens tale about Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemptive Christmas Eve. It is directed by Stephen Vincelli and stars James Milvain as Scrooge.
Acting classes helped Stones settle in after the family moved from Manchester, England, two years ago.
“The transition was a bit rocky at the beginning,” mom Anne Stones said. “He was struggling with his confidence and he’s not very sporty, so I was looking for a hobby that might help him adjust. Acting gives him that sense of validation.”
Three weeks after Stones was enrolled in an acting class at the Dollard-des-Ormeaux Civic Centre, his teacher asked if he would like to audition for the role of Banquo’s son, Fleance, in the Montreal Shakespeare Company summer production of Macbeth.
He got the part.
Stones enjoys the acting. It draws him out of his somewhat-shy shell.
“I guess I like acting because it forces me to overcome the nervousness,” Stones said. “After I’m done, I say ‘Yes! I did it without breaking down.’”
After the Macbeth experience, which Stones described as “pretty cool,” he was asked to audition for the role of Tiny Tim, an offer he initially turned down.
When no one else applied for the gig, he was contacted again and decided he’d give it a try.
“I sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas for the audition,” Stones said. “But I didn’t need to do a monologue, because nobody else was trying out, so I wasn’t that nervous.”
The Beaconsfield High School student is a self-confessed Trekkie and a fan of steampunk — a science fiction genre that features steam-powered machines. His favourite actor is Star Trek’s William Shatner.
“If you walk into my bedroom, I guarantee you’ll find something from Star Trek in one second,” Stones said. “I think I like things that most people either don’t like or even know about.”
Along with his Tiny Tim duties, Stones also plays a villager and the young boy near the end of the play who runs to the butcher to buy the big turkey on Scrooge’s behalf.
“Joe is very level-headed and grounded,” Anne Stones said. “He thinks of the acting as an opportunity. It takes up a lot of his time. He sometimes rehearses until 11 p.m. and then has to get up at 7 a.m. for school. I certainly couldn’t do what he does.”
Grandparents and an aunt are flying in from Manchester to see Stones perform.
“It better be good,” Anne Stones said with a laugh.
A Christmas Carol is at the Rialto Theatre, 5723 Park Ave., for nine performances over eight days, beginning Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $20 for seniors, students with ID and children under 12 years old and are available at the box office, 514-770-7773, or online at www.rialtotheatre.ca or www.ticketpro.ca.