When it comes to Christmas at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, it’s all about family. Especially for actress and producer Ellen Travolta. Once again, the veteran TV and stage performer is surrounding herself with family for her annual Christmas show at the resort.
There’s her sister Margaret Travolta and daughter Molly Allen. Then there’s her performing family, with cabaret singer Abbey Crawford, bassist Eugene Jablonski and pianist Jenny Twitchell. Watching the show with a careful eye is director Troy Nickerson.
Family is the thing that keeps bringing her back to perform, Margaret Travolta said. “I probably wouldn’t do this show if it weren’t for Ellen,” she said. “That was the draw for me. I think people seeing us a family, performing as a family … telling these stories, reminds them of a story they want to tell their kids.”
(She jokes that one condition of returning this year was getting to sing a solo, so she’ll perform “The Christmas Waltz” accompanied by Jablonski.) “Christmas Miracles,” which opens at the resort today, will feature a mix of music and comedy along with stories from the Travolta family archives and for the third year stories submitted by the community.
Previous years have centered on Christmas memories and toy stories. This year, Travolta asked to hear about Christmas miracles. Travolta read all the submissions, picked the best and worked on condensing the tales for the show. Then her sister takes a look and they compare notes.
“The stories involve everything from a pink robe to a wreath to a kitten, on the lighter side,” Travolta said. “The rest are heavier. … They’re more intricate. They have some sadness, but they end with hope.”
A perk of having your story selected for the show is getting to see it told by professional actors. And it brings a real sense of community to the proceedings.
“These letters come from here. You’re sharing stories with your community, and it’s become a huge part of people’s desire to go,” she said. “I’ll hear from folks that they’re coming to the show. I’ll ask, ‘Did you write a story?’ And they say, ‘No, I like to hear other people’s stories.’ ”
Her sister added, “And, nine times out of 10, they know who we’re talking about because it is local. They’ll say, ‘That’s Betty! I know Betty. She was my teacher.’ That’s a nice connection.”
The rest of the show features music and comedy and the beloved stories from the Travolta family. This is the ninth year that the resort has hosted a holiday show, and Travolta has presented seven of them. It’s an experience she really enjoys.
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