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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Traditions’ changes every year

Kylee Solberg and Easton Townsend appear in “Traditions of Christmas.”
Kylee Solberg and Easton Townsend appear in “Traditions of Christmas.”

Now in its fourth year, “Traditions of Christmas” indeed can be considered a tradition.

Presented each year by Laura Little Theatricals, “Traditions of Christmas” brings high-stepping kick-line dancers, singers, child actors and even animals to the Salvation Army Kroc Center stage for a celebration of Christmas traditions from around the world.

Lest it be too wedded to tradition, the show gets tweaked from year to year, Little said. This year, for instance, there’s live narration instead of a recorded soundtrack. A keyboardist will provide more live music this year, too. The tribute to the military has been expanded to include the Coast Guard, at the request of previous years’ audiences. There’s a comedic element this year too, she said, but she wants to keep the details a surprise. “It’s a fun little piece.”

Also new is an “amazing” Pentatonix-style a capella number, performed by a group of 10 singers, she said.

With a cast of 78 and an assortment of animals for the living Nativity – a horse, donkey, sheep, goats and a lamb included – one of the biggest challenges is keeping everything and everyone on time and in place. Helping keep everything on cue is director Andy Renfrew, a veteran of Lake City Playhouse/the Modern Coeur d’Alene and Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater, who is directing for the second year. Making his debut as music director is local actor Cody Bray, who starred this summer in “First Date” for CST and in “Les Miserables” for Spokane Civic Theatre last season.

“He’s a phenomenal music director,” Little said. “He’s very talented. We knew he was talented from his acting and singing, but to be able to lead 78 people in his mid-20s, it’s pretty impressive. He commanded their respect.”

A handful of the performers have been with the show all four years. “What’s been fun about that is watching them grow with the different parts,” Little said. “There’s one girl in particular, Addie Dibble, who started as a gingerbread dancer and now has worked her way into toy soldier, and that was her goal, to be toy soldier and kick line understudy. Hopefully next year she’ll be able to be in kick line.”

Putting together this year’s show, the creative team has an eye toward the future. In 2016, they’re taking the show to the Nampa Civic Center for a two-week run in addition to the Coeur d’Alene show.

“It’s super exciting,” she said. “We’re constantly juggling right now, ‘OK what scenes are we going to do in Boise next year?’ Because you have to coordinate that.”

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