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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Big local talent leads Big Band Christmas

The “Big Band Christmas” show of 2021 was a hit, prompting Spokane Valley Summer Theatre to prepare a new show for 2022.  (Spokane Valley Summer Theatre)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

It really is Christmas in July for Andrea Olsen. The music director of the Spokane Valley Summer Theatre starts planning for “A Big Band Christmas” during the summer.

“I begin to think about themes or pieces of music that I take into consideration for the show months ago,” Olsen said. “I select the charts and then I find who is best suited for the material.”

Olsen, 46, has been working overtime and the moment has finally arrived for the fruits of her labor to be showcased. “A Big Band Christmas,” which is slated for Friday through Sunday at University High School, will feature some of the region’s emerging singers and a 17-piece orchestra.

Songs range from Mariah Carey’s upbeat “All I Want for Christmas is You” to the holiday classic “A Child is Born” to the wacky “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

There will be singing soloists, duos, trios and groups – 35 professional musicians will deliver 22 eclectic Christmas tunes.

“We’re going to have fun with ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,’ ” Olsen said. “Some of our comedic actors will be out for that one.”

The songs have been rehearsed since mid-November. “We’ve done our best to get ready for this show,” Olsen said. “We haven’t done many of them but we want to do it right.”

The first “Big Band Christmas” was a pre-recorded video sent to patrons in 2020. “We tried to be as creative as possible,” Olsen said. “People really needed entertainment during 2020.”

“A Big Band Christmas” went over well for its first time live in 2021. “The feedback we received last year was great,” Olsen said. “But we’re compelled to improve on what we did last year. Big band music is popular with the young and the old, particularly Christmas music.”

Olsen, a Canadian who has lived in Spokane for the past 30 years, is impressed with the level of local talent. “There’s certainly something in the water here,” Olsen said. “To accomplish what we’re doing is impressive due to the caliber of people we have here. We have a lot of fantastic people here who are so talented. Some of our people are so talented they eventually go to New York but they come back to be part of our productions. I appreciate those who are Broadway bound who return. And then there are the talented people who stay, who prove that you can remain in Spokane and you can still do your art and get paid for it. Without all of these gifted people we wouldn’t be able to have ‘A Big Band Christmas.’ ”