A holiday musical collaboration between the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre and the Coeur d’Alene Resort sold out virtually its entire run last year.
This season, the show returns with a different title and style: “Cool Yule.”
Director and co-writer Roger Welch said the name comes from the song that opens the second act, but it also serves as a description of the show’s musical attitude.
“A lot of the music is done in the style of the Manhattan Transfer, with that jazz-cool feel,” Welch said.
Other parts of the show “hearken back to those old TV specials with Perry Como and Andy Williams,” he said.
It’s a departure from last year’s 1940s USO theme, but otherwise, this show shares the original show’s most important attributes – namely, the entire cast. Welch has reassembled singers Kurt Raimer, Calley McKinney Cabe, Mark Cotter and Laura Sable. They have all had lead roles in various CdA Summer Theatre musicals, and they all know their way around a four-part harmony.
The show is in the same venue as last year – the Shore Room at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Yet that, too, has been given a makeover.
“It really looks like a 200-seat theater now, with better viewing,” said Welch.
Welch came up with the show’s basic concept and Christian Duhamel arranged the music. You’ll hear songs ranging from “O Tannenbaum” to “Christmas in Killarney” to “Santa Baby.” Jim Ryan directs a piano-bass-drums combo.
The first act begins with the song “We Need a Little Christmas” from “Mame” and uses the lyrics as a springboard for a sometimes humorous, sometimes sentimental look at Christmas traditions and their origins. For instance, after the cast sings the line, “Haul out the holly,” they launch into an interlude about how holly became a Yuletide tradition.
The setting for the first act will be undoubtedly familiar to some in the audience: A living room overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene.
The second act has more of a “Christmas cabaret” feel, Welch said. Each performer takes the spotlight to explore personal memories and emotions about Christmas. For instance, Cabe will explore what those old TV specials such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” mean to her and her family. Raimer will explore his memories of hiking out in the woods to pick out a tree.
Most of the tunes are familiar holiday favorites – except for one. Sable has written an original song, arranged by Duhamel, titled “A Coeur d’Alene Christmas.”
“I’ve got to say, I think this song will be the hit of the show,” Welch said. “I can totally hear it on the radio.”
Last year’s Coeur d’Alene Christmas memories might include standing in long lines at the door for general admission tickets to this hit show. Patrons won’t have to worry about that for “Cool Yule.” This year, reserved seating is available, which is a key improvement for a show in such high demand.