It’s tempting to think of this year’s holiday show at the Coeur d’Alene Resort as “A Travolta Family Christmas.” After all, the show is produced by Ellen Travolta, who appears along with her sister, Margaret, and her husband, Jack Bannon.
Ellen Travolta would be quick to correct your assumption. “I Remember Christmas” is an ensemble show, she said.
While there will be some Travolta family memories, there also will be music, readings and an old-time radio show. And for the two non-family members in the cast, the show has become a bit like family.
“It’s my favorite work that I’ve done all year,” said Katherine Strohmaier.
Seattle-based Strohmaier, who has done Rosemary Clooney shows in the past, will do an eight-minute Clooney medley during the show.
“What I love is the sincerity of the show,” she said. “We have a million Christmas things around us and we do some Christmas tunes, but it’s more about family than just regurgitating the old Christmas tunes for no reason.
“Even though I have a couple ballads, we’re trying to keep it light.”
Strohmaier, a Lewiston native who did a few seasons with Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre more than a decade ago, is happy to be back. “I feel like even though it’s been a lot of years, Coeur d’Alene still feels like home, because it’s Idaho.”
Spokane actor Patrick Treadway enjoys doing holiday shows, if only to stay busy during the season, as he doesn’t have family in the area. “This is such a familial situation, and I know these guys so well, so it really is like we’re creating a family moment,” he said. “It’s been very warm and welcoming.”
Treadway will do a little Bing Crosby, some Fibber McGee and Molly (with Bannon), and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. (Before anyone asks, Treadway’s talents do not include ventriloquism. He’ll be moving his lips.)
“I get to do the funny bits, and they get to do all the warm, feel-good bits,” he said.
As for Margaret Travolta, who had appeared with her sister in Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre productions since she moved here in 2009, she admits it will be a bit strange not simply being a spectator for the holiday show this year. But she thinks audiences are in for a special evening. “I just know everybody’s going to have a good time.”
She added, “they’re going to hear stories that are very personal, but at the same time we’re going to remind people of their own memories, because some of them are similar.
“We all have memories of not being able to sleep Christmas Eve.”
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