With mall Santa’s on hiatus this year due to the pandemic, Vancouver’s Labmations and DCJ Productions are filling the void with its family-friendly mystery Missing Santa.
Presented online between December 16 and 20, Missing Santa takes the younger ones who still “believe” on an adventure as they help solve the riddle of what happened to Santa.
“The animation and the digital effects are wild and wonderful, and the talent that has come together to put on this show to delight people of all ages is astounding.” – David C Jones
“Just days before Christmas, the elves and Mrs. Claus have noticed that Santa has gone missing,” says co-creator David C Jones*. “They hire the incompetent Detective Bill Jingle, who contacts some of Santa’s friends to help locate him. As the mystery unfolds, the audience is encouraged to solve the puzzle alongside the detective.”
A collaboration between Jones’ DCJ Productions and Labmations, Missing Santa melds the theatrical and the technological.
With Jones taking charge of the story and its cast of Vancouver-based actors, singers, jugglers and even a magician, Labmations’ Ed Walwail is taking care of the technical side with green screen technology, digital effects and animation to bring the story to life online.
“I’ve been working on digital streaming over the past few months, and I wanted to create something around Christmas,” says Walwail.
With the spark of an idea, Walwail reached out to Jones, and the two clicked.
“We discovered we had similar creative imaginations, and I loved what Ed was doing with technology,” says Jones.
For Walwail, it was about expanding his network as both a recent immigrant and university graduate. Missing Santa was also a good fit for Walwail, who was already doing some work in children’s literature with his upcoming book Little Red Riding Hijab and a podcast targeted at children’s learning.
“I started connecting with people, and David really grabbed my attention as someone I thought would be a good collaborator for this project,” says Walwail.
With Jones on board, the two decided that they also wanted to do some good by raising much-needed funds for West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation. It is a charity near to Jones’ heart, having worked with its predecessor in the past.
“Just like the arts groups are hurting, so are the health groups,” says Jones. “With so much money going in the direction of COVID, I suggested we try to raise cash for this charity as we create the show.”
In addition to the Missing Santa story, the show will also feature an online tour of some of the best Christmas light displays around Metro Vancouver.
And of course, with in-person visits with Santa are impossible this year, parents can purchase an add-on interactive virtual visit, customized for each child, with the big guy himself.
“We wanted to make an enjoyable experience for the kids,” says Walwail. “It’s not just a Zoom conversation with Santa but an immersive experience where we customize the Zoom platform with video, interactive animation and music.”
Dealing with the pandemic’s realities and the desire to create a memorable experience for children during these strange times, Jones and Walwail are looking forward to sharing their creation with the world.
“It’s not like anything you’ve seen before,” says Jones. “The animation and the digital effects are wild and wonderful, and the talent that has come together to put on this show to delight people of all ages is astounding.”
Missing Santa streams December 18-26. Visit labmations.com for tickets and information.
*David C Jones is an ongoing contributor at Vancouver Presents.