How ’bout some ham with your holiday?
BRECKENRIDGE – Last year, the Backstage Theatre added music to its usual holiday show and it went so well, artistic director Jeremy Cole said he turned hundreds of people away.So this year, Cole’s running the show at the Breckenridge Theatre for three nights then moving to a larger venue, the Silverthorne Pavilion, for two nights.The show features comic and uptempo songs, a touching ballad and a number of traditional poems and stories.”It’s universally appealing in that it’s things you’re familiar with from your childhood,” said Murphy Funkhouser, one of the performers. “It’s like an old-fashioned Christmas variety show. It’s a very casual and fun event.”
The annual holiday show started in 2002 as a reader’s theater with such stories as “Gift of the Magi,” “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” “Frankly, it was kind of dull,” Cole said. “You can listen to someone telling stories around the campfire for only so long.”The following year Cole added songs. He has kept the elements audiences love, like “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” and he’s added short comic scenes and more music.”This year, we went more for singing voices and energy and a ham factor,” Cole said.
But the show still includes Sandra Willis’ classically trained voice singing “Do You Hear What I Hear?”And, of course, it features plenty of funny business, such as Suzanne Pedersen’s parody on “Deck the Halls,” about sending gifts through the post office, and Funkhouser inviting a man up from the audience to put a Santa hat on his head and serenade him with “Santa Baby.”Other actors include Backstage veterans Jim Brennan, whose goofy quality (according to Cole) added to “Red Herring”; Tracy Church, who did technical work at the Backstage and one day let her singing talent slip out when she filled in for someone at a rehearsal; Michael Orlin, who played in “The Spitfire Grill” and has a baritone voice; and Skip Wee, who played in “Metamorphoses.”The show is very family-friendly and includes “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for kids to join in.
“It’s cozy,” Pedersen said. “It’s sort of like if you were in your home telling a few stories and poems and singing some fun Christmas tunes.”Though Cole says he does the show very spare, the seasoned actors add plenty of personality.”I see a lot of theaters get a holiday show like ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and they do it over and over and over until it’s tired and dusty,” Cole said. ‘It’s almost like recycled. What’s fun about this is it changes every year based on the personalities so each year we can jumble it up and people don’t come and say, ‘Oh, that’s the same thing I saw last year.'”- Kimberly Nicoletti
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