Christmas Classics Playlist

Hope you enjoy our Very Vintage Christmas Playlist!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from all of us here at Bygone Theatre.

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Bygone Theatre Holiday Auction

Bygone Theatre’s Holiday Auction is just around the corner! We’ve got something for everyone, with some bids starting as low as $5. Wide range of items including theatre tickets to shows produced by Buddies in Bad Times, Scarborough Music Theatre, Hart House Theatre, Crow’s Theatre and Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre; vintage items from Tucked Away Antiques like signed photos of classic Hollywood stars and vintage movie posters; charming themed gift baskets; getaway packages to New York, Tuscany and Sonoma, and much more!

Proceeds go towards our upcoming production of His Girl Friday, running March 2-5, 2017. This is a big show with a big cast – 18 actors! – and so we have a lot of work to do. Help support local theatre while doing  your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your own home! Auction runs online from 9:00am Thursday December 8th to 2pm on Saturday December 10th – bid at bygonetheatre2016.eflea.ca.

 

Merry Christmas!

We’d like to wish all our friends, family & fellow theatre lovers a very merry Christmas and happy new year. Thank you for your continued support, and we hope to see much more of you in the new year.

To wrap up our Retro Christmas Countdown, here is our Top 20 Forgotten Vintage Christmas Songs – throw them on while you’re unwrapping presents or meeting your sweetheart under the mistletoe. Enjoy!

-E.

Retro Christmas Countdown – Xmas in the 20th Century

While Christmas dates back hundreds of years before, it was the start of the 20th century that saw the turn towards the lavish and very commercial holiday that we all know today. Here’s a very brief history of Christmas traditions from the last century.

1900s

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The first Christmas card was created in 1843 by John Horsley, and by the turn of the century the Victorian’s love of sentimental greetings had made this a popular tradition.

The Victorian styles of decorating carried into the start of the 20th century, with gilded nuts, candles and paper ornaments adorning trees.

This decade also saw the creation of what was to become one of the most popular children’s toys of the century; the Teddy Bear. Named after President Roosevelt, the charming story of the origin of this toy and its name can be read here.

1910s

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As Christmas rapidly became a highly commercialized holiday, more and more companies used it as a means of selling their products, and the image of Santa Claus began to morph into the one we are familiar with today. It was in the 1910s that Santa’s now unmistakable look, with red suit and pants trimmed in white fur, matching cap and long white beard, began to become the norm.

While a legend has grown that claims Coca Cola invented the modern-day image of Santa, that is not quite the case. Prior to the famous Coca Cola Santa (who was created in 1931), the jolly elf had been portrayed as anything from tall and lanky to a munchkin-sized man. Norman Rockwell had painted a Santa who is strikingly similar to the 30s Coke version all the way back in 1911, however it wasn’t until Coke began regularly producing consistent looking Christmas ads that the current version of St. Nick really began to stick.

For an interesting pictorial history of Santa, check out this link.

1920s

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By the 1920s the upper class had traded-in their candles for electric Christmas lights, and trees were as lavish and daring as the fashions of the decades.

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With the rising popularity of the wireless (radio), the 1920s also saw the first Christmas radio broadcast when, in 1922, Arthur Burrow presented “The Truth About Father Christmas”.

1930s

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Rockefeller Centre, 1931

In the midst of the Great Depression few had money to spend on food and clothing, let alone Christmas gifts and decorations. Still, the tradition of putting up a tree hung on, with many families owning decorations they had purchased in the more prosperous 1920s. Homemade ornaments also adorned the tree, made out of things like the foil paper saved from cigarette packs. As previously mentioned, Coca Cola started to advertise with their own version of Santa, and upbeat Christmas songs were enjoyed on the radio. Advertisements still bombarded shoppers with ideas for the perfect Christmas gift, only their tactics had changed; a focus on the practical and sometimes financing options were promoted.

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The popular character Rudolph, everyone’s favourite red-nosed reindeer, was created in 1939 by Montgomery Ward. Although it wasn’t until a decade later when Gene Autry released the song that we’ve all learned as kids.

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1940s

The 1940s saw the Second World War, and with that came rations and a reminder that the war effort should be supported above all else. Sales in non-necessities like Christmas lights dropped dramatically as many companies changed their focus to assist in the war effort. War bonds were promoted as a perfect gift for any family member or friend, and Santa himself switched his classic red & white outfit to don army duds and support the cause.

With many families missing fathers, brothers and sons overseas, Christmas could have been a bittersweet time. However, back home the masses were reminded to keep their spirits up while fighting the good fight, so many Christmas celebrations resumed some of the splendour they had seen before the Depression.

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1950s

The post-war boom made the Christmas of the 1950s one of the biggest and gaudiest yet. The Baby Boom meant there were lots of families with youngsters, and so the toy market was buzzing. Wide-spread prosperity meant most were lucky enough to be able to afford Christmas celebrations, and women’s magazines, eager to encourage them to return to the home, now that the war was over, pushed for the ideal Christmas season, full of elaborate recipes and decor.

Television was also becoming popular and with it came a host of Christmas specials. Stars like Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby recorded Christmas songs and popular shows like I Love Lucy recorded special Christmas episodes.

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1960s

By the 1960s, the fads of the 50s were firmly cemented; every toy imaginable was available on the market and they were advertised directly to children in between the cartoons they watched on tv. The Christmas shows we still see today – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Frosty the Snowman – first appeared on the airwaves and decorations were more colourful and outlandish than ever before.

There was significant variety now as well. Christmas trees could be anything from your traditional green pine, to the popular aluminum trees that came in silver, aqua and even pink! And don’t forget the fake snow! The concept of “Kitschmas” was truly born in the 1960s.

What’s your favourite Christmas decade? Tweet your replies to @BygoneTheatre #RetroXmas 

-E.

Retro Christmas Countdown – Crazy Vintage Recipes

Every family has their own Christmas traditions, and chances are, they include some much-loved recipes. However, for every delicious pie there is that dreaded fruit cake or failed potato salad that family members choke down once a year so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Imagine the difficulty in doing that, however, when the popular recipes of the day looked like this!

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Ok, I kind of get it…candles, Christmas, those sort of go together. But somehow looking at those I don’t find myself thinking of candles…also, maybe it’s just me, but bananas never exactly screamed “xmas” to me.

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In keeping with our candle theme here’s one dish that does something incredible; turns me off from food even more than the previous one. It’s like someone had spent years plopping that cranberry sauce out of the can and thinking, it needs something extra, and then one day, eureka! We can mix it with mayonnaise and light it on fire! I mean, the lighting it on fire part isn’t a bad idea…

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Oh goody! More of everyone’s favourite Christmas treat; bananas! But now we’ve perfected them by ADDING MEAT.

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Now, on top of generally just being against eating anything that smiles at me, I feel like “seafood” and “mousse” are two words that shouldn’t really go together. Gotta appreciate that great presentation though, the bed of greens and 3 awkwardly places tomatoes really give it that je ne sais quoi.

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Despite it’s bizarre appearance, I feel this may be the most normal meal on the list. I think those are cornflakes that have been sort of “candy-fied” and topped with what I assume are mints. Worth the effort? Not really. But much less likely to give you nightmares or gut rot than most of this list.

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There were just too many lovely jello creations to choose from, I couldn’t narrow it down to one. Really, all you need to know is that jello used to be SO popular they made vegetable flavour, and that it wasn’t uncommon to serve as part of the main course. Now, admittedly, my Grandmother always serves jello with Christmas dinner, I think it’s a rural Ontarian thing, but THANK GOD it’s cherry flavoured and I’ve never been forced to choke down shrimp and olive jello.

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I think the name says it all. “Bacon pudding” is even worse than “vegetable jello” in my books. Fun Fact: this comes up looking the exact same way it does going down.

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Last, but certainly not least, this piece de resistance that certainly does take the crown. I think what really makes it for me is that, they seem to have sliced the sausages lengthwise so that they can curve up around the dish, rising up so support that lovely pile of…I guess it’s some sort of sauerkraut…I’d love to see someone try and serve this without the whole thing falling apart, almost as much as I’d love to watch someone eat it without falling apart themselves.

Did you like this post? Check out other blogs like Bad Jelly (where they make and try some of these fabulous creations) and The Gallery of Regrettable Food. Have you ever tried anything this ghastly? Tweet us your pictures or stories to @BygoneTheatre #RetroFood.

-E.

Vintage Christmas Printables

In need of some last-minute decorations or gifts? Check out these sources for great vintage printables and hand-make a card, gift tag, wreath or garland. Be sure to tweet pictures of your creations to @BygoneTheatre! Click on the images for links to the original sites.

Graphics Fairy

Graphics Fairy has hundreds of Christmas printables.

 

Vintage Holiday Crafts features many turn-of-the-century Christmas cards

Vintage Holiday Crafts features many turn-of-the-century Christmas cards

 

Beautiful gift tags from Christmas Charisma.

Beautiful gift tags from Christmas Charisma.

 

True to its name, Free Pretty Things For You has some adorable prints, a bit more modern and colourful than the others, plus ideas how on to use them!

True to its name, Free Pretty Things For You has some adorable prints, a bit more modern and colourful than the others, plus ideas how on to use them!

 

Miss the kitschy-fun wrapping paper of yesteryear? No fear! Aunt Peaches has some scanned so print to your hearts content.

Miss the kitschy-fun wrapping paper of yesteryear? No fear! Aunt Peaches has some scanned so print to your hearts content.

 

Enjoy!

Retro Christmas Countdown – Gifts For The Guys

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on finding the perfect gift for the vintage-loving ladies in your life, we thought we’d do one for the boys.

For The Host

Does your man love to play host? Help him up his vintage game with a gift like this masculine travel bar set from Etsy, or check out Toronto’s BYOB for a similar one-of-a-kind find. Not much of a drinker? Why not help add to the ambiance with a retro-inspired radio or mp3 player, like the funky ones by Crosley.

For The Film Buff

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An easy gift for you film-loving friend is of course, a movie or movie box set. Already know his favourite vintage flick? Why not buy him a gift set by the same director or starring the same actor? If you really want to leave an impression, you can even give him this ridiculous (but very cool) vintage-style Crosley tv.

For The Business Man

If he has an office or dedicated workspace, there is a wide range of gorgeous office accessories out there sure to make any vintage lover squeal with delight. Restoration Hardware has spectacular pieces and while most are pricey enough to be options for the very wealthy (few of us have upwards of $3000 for a desk) some of their desk accessories are relatively accessible, like the 19th Century Belgian Deed Boxes (doubt he already has one!). Or go for something with a more personal touch and find an antique card holder from your local vintage shop and take it in to be engraved.

For The Greaser

If he’s more of a 50s bad boy type lots of vintage and rockabilly stores have some wicked shirts, like these from Tatyana’s boutique. And if he spends more time doing his hair than you do, maybe throw in some good old fashioned hair pomade as well and help keep those Elivis-esq coifs looking fine.

For The Dandy

 

If your gentleman prefers tweed jackets and bow ties to jeans and bowling shirts, you may want to look for something a little more upscale and help him complete his “dandy” image. New York’s Fine & Dandy would be my first choice here as they carry everything you could need for this look – even spats and sock garters! If that’s a little much check out their wide range of neckwear, sure to impress the most particular of tastes.

Retro Christmas Countdown – Gifts for the Ladies

With Christmas less than a week away we thought it was time to do a final Christmas countdown for all you retro lovers out there. Check our blog every day up to and including on Christmas for some vintage holiday fun.

To start things off, here are some fabulous gift ideas for the lovely ladies on your list.

For The Makeup Lover


Is the lady on your list a fan of glamourous vintage makeup looks? Then be sure to check out Besame Cosmetics. Created by cosmetic historian (yes, that is a thing) Gabriella Hernandez, Besame features a wide range of  reproduction beauty products that beautifully capture the luxury styles of the 1920s-50s. From 20s style cake mascara to 1938 Crimson Cream Rouge, this company is sure to have the perfect item for your makeup loving friend.

For The Quirky Friend


Not sure what to get for your quirky, vintage-loving pal? Have no fear, there are dozens of great options. Why not try a funky pillow with a great cult-vibe? Or an adorable Sailor-Jerry-esq tea towel set? Blame Betty has these and many more for very reasonable prices. Not quirky enough? Try scouring Etsy for a unique find, like these book purses from Novel Creations, or find a one-of-a-kind vintage item, like this kitschy figurine – she’s sure to remember that!

For The Cocktail Fan

Nothing screams vintage like the perfect cocktail served up in a gorgeous vintage glass. West Elm carries a nice set of 20s inspired stemware, and Toronto’s own BYOB carries everything from stunning absinthe fountains to funky tiki mugs.

For The Jewellery Lover

Dazzle her with an Edwardian (reproduction) ring or a daring Deco necklace. Jans Jewells offers a wide selection of reproduction jewellery made with more affordable materials (eg. cubic zirconia rather than diamonds) so you can get that beautiful one-of-a-kind look without breaking the bank buying a real vintage piece. 1928 is a similar store with a lot of great vintage-inspired finds; check out their Downton Abbey collection for some hopelessly romantic pieces.

For The All-Round Retro Diva

Does your gal love everything retro? Does she look like she stepped out of a Golden Age picture? Then you’re in luck, because there are dozens of stores dedicated to amazing retro-styled fashions. Here in town check out shops like Tatyana’s Boutique or Rosie the Rebel for more casual retro duds, or try Cabaret Vintage for a more upscale look. If you’re willing to look overseas you’ll find an even better collection at shops like Collectif or What Katie Did. Make sure you check the return policy, especially if ordering from overseas. In cases like this, a gift card may be the way to go, it’s unlikely your retro diva would be disappointed in that.

Retro Radio Hour – Winter Wonderland

Retro Radio Hour – Winter Wonderland is just around the corner! This is the 7th in our radio series, another fun-filled evening of vintage radio plays, oldies music, magic & a Christmas sale all in support of our mainstage season. The show is playing at the Imperial Pub, 54 Dundas St. E (Yonge & Dundas) Friday November 27th; doors open at 8pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

This month’s show features…

Elizabeth Stuart-Morris – Bygone’s Chair
Elizabeth makes her Bygone performance debut this week. Come see the lovely lady who’s been hard at work behind the scenes. You may have seen her in other performances in Toronto, like the recent Summerworks production of Seams.

Leete Stetson – Bygone’s Vice Chair & Past Performer
Leete has been a part of Bygone since its beginning. He starred as Tony in Dial M For Murder and as Brandon in Rope, as well as having participated in past radio shows.

 Emily Dix – Bygone’s Artistic Executive Director
Emily usually works behind-the-scenes, directing and producing Bygone’s shows, but she has performed in every one of our radio shows to-date.

Matt McGrath – Bygone Founding Member
In addition to working on the production side of Bygone’s shows, Matt has been seen onstage in previous radio shows, and as Kenneth in Rope.

Ian McGarrett – Past Performer
Ian made his acting debut as Thompson in Dial M For Murder and since then has been a staple of Bygone’s radio series. He also played the role of Dr. Kentley in Rope.

Leigh Beadon – Past Performer
Leigh has been involved in the last few radio shows, performing his incredible magic/mentalist routine!

Michael Zahorak – Past Performer
Mike first joined Bygone as the composer for Kill Sister, Kill. Since then he has performed for several of our radio shows.

#BTradio #WinterWonderland

Retro Radio Hour: Holiday Special – Performer Spotlight – Peter Grant Mackechnie

Peter Grant Mackechnie is one of Bygone’s go-to-guys for music. He played the keyboard for “Doubt: A Parable” and for our first “Retro Radio Hour”, and now is back again to lend his musical talents!

Peter Grant Mackechnie

Peter Grant Mackechnie

What made you want to be a part of Bygone Theatre’s “Retro Radio Hour: Holiday Special”?
I really love the idea of presenting authentic scripts from the golden age of radio plays as they actually would have sounded. Nostalgia and relics of days gone by appeal to me! One of my roles in the show is as an improviser of music and advertisement jingles to go along with the plays, and it’s fun to think about and imitate the style of cheesy, heavy-handed music that accompanied radio dramas.

What is your favourite holiday tv special?
I was actually never big on gooshy TV specials or things like that, my family was… not so holiday-oriented, I guess? Although, if movies are an acceptable answer, I really like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

What is your fondest holiday memory?
The Christmas the Nintendo Gamecube came out. It launched with Super Smash Bros. Melee, and I and several friends got it and spent that entire holiday playing it. Ah, 2001.

What is your most funniest holiday memory?
Funniest? Well, my cats always used to pee on the tree and/or knock it over (we had a lot of cats). That necessitated my parents tying the tree to the wall with fishing line so it wouldn’t keep falling and smashing all the ornaments. I thought it was pretty funny, my Mom didn’t.

What are you most excited for in regards to “Retro Radio Hour”? Why should everyone come to see it?
I’m excited to perform! The radio format allows me to just play some music, read some scripts that are a lot of fun and feature all kinds of wacky characters, and kind of get an interesting window into the minds of people in the 40s (etc.). It’s neat to see the way their biases, gender roles, opinions, and the general ways the wind was blowing come through in the dramas of the era.