When “Traditions of Christmas” takes to the Kroc Center stage starting today, there will be a few assorted animals and 87 local performers – including an Oscar winner.
Longtime Coeur d’Alene resident Patty Duke (“The Miracle Worker”) is playing Mrs. Claus. Her husband, Mike Pearce, will be putting on the red suit to play Kris Kringle.
It’s a role she admits she never expected to play.
“It never occurred to me,” Duke said. “I didn’t expect to get old enough.”
To warm up for their roles, Duke and Pearce donned their costumes and headed to Fred Meyer in Coeur d’Alene and worked a shift as Salvation Army bell ringers during the Thanksgiving weekend.
“I thought to myself, this is either an all-time career high or low,” she said with a laugh. “And it was fun. It was lovely. People were so glad to see the holidays get going.”
She’s having a lot of fun working on the show.
“I’m not a singer or a dancer, but I come close,” she said, laughing. “It’s such a beautiful show. … And it’s gotten me in the Christmas spirit.”
Producer Laura Little, who is bringing “Traditions” to Coeur d’Alene for the second year, described it as a series of vignettes. There’s a USO scene, an international customs scene, a Dickens scene, a living Nativity, and a Rockettes-style kick line.
If you saw “Traditions” last year, don’t expect the same show. There are five new numbers this year as part of a plan to keep things fresh. “We try every year to do a few things different so it’s not the exact same show,” Little said.
“Traditions” is quite the production, Little said. Those 87 performers use 450 costumes. There’s a donkey and a horse and two sheep. It includes 47 full or partial songs and eights versions of Santa from different countries.
“I hope (people) get to see it this year,” Little said, “and see what the fuss is about.”
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