Although it’s now in its third year, “Traditions of Christmas” is still pulling out all the stops.
It’s a holiday variety show featuring vignettes that are inspired by everything from Charles Dickens to the Rockettes to 1940s USO shows, and it features aerial dancing, a kick line, a dance number a la “Stomp,” visits from the Santa Clauses of the world and a living nativity scene featuring real animals.
And that’s not to mention the program of classic holiday songs – “O Holy Night,” “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” “White Christmas” – a heartfelt military tribute and a new sequence inspired by World War II command pilot Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, who was famous for parachuting sweets down to the children of Berlin from his plane.
A production of this size – there are 72 performers in the cast – is obviously a major undertaking, but producer Laura Little says that she doesn’t plan for the scope of the show to keep ballooning year after year. She says this year’s show is only about five minutes longer than last year’s, and it likely won’t ever get much longer, nor will she add more dates to the production schedule.
“Every year we try to add new scenes,” said Little, who is also executive director of Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre. “What we do is take a scene out and add another one in, and every few years we’ll rotate different scenes in and out. … When you get that many actors and volunteers involved in the show, to ask them to do any more shows than two weekends during the holidays is just too much.”
Not only does the show attract families with children, but Little says she was surprised that senior groups from as far as Seattle and Montana were planning to travel by bus to see the show.
“It’s so full of nostalgia for senior groups,” Little said. “They show up in droves. It was not expected.”
In accord with the show’s title, Little hopes families make the production an annual holiday tradition of their own, an event that inspires them to spend time with one another every Christmas season.
“They have an avenue to create bonds within the different generations within their family – a senior can walk out and say to a grandchild, ‘I remember that song from when I was your age,’ and pass down a memory,” she said. “I really hope than in 10 years, if the show’s still going on, that somebody who is now 15 and is then 25 brings their spouse.
“I hope that people forget the hustle and bustle of real life for a few hours, and that they walk out with this light Christmas spirit. Everything about the show is joyful.”
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