From “Reindeer Express” (1989-90) and “A Yuletide Festival” (1991-97) to “Yuletide Magic” (1998-2003) and “A Very Merry Pops” (2004-10), the Oklahoma City Philharmonic has enjoyed a long history of presenting programs that help put people in the holiday spirit.
This year, the orchestra unveils the newest version of its annual holiday production, aptly titled “The Christmas Show.” As always, the production is a blend of old and new, sacred and secular, choral and orchestral, intimate solos and grand production numbers.
Putting together such a production involves the participation of more than 150 people, with nearly as many people operating behind the scenes as those thrust into the spotlight. With a new production planned this year, I thought I'd solicit input from several participants who help make this production a success.
Joel Levine, music director and conductor, Oklahoma City Philharmonic — “I work with the different members of the team (Eddie Walker, Lyn Cramer and Vince Leseney) to assemble the show. We pick the star(s) of the show, the overall concept, the music, the arrangers and the details of the orchestrations.
Lyn Cramer, director of “The Christmas Show” — Together with Joel and Vince, I conceive and plan the entire production. I direct and choreograph the show. The buck stops with me on scenic design, prop design, lighting design, casting, costume design, selecting and leading the production team, auditioning children and writing the show. While completely collaborative, the company looks to me for leadership in all aspects of the show.
Judy McLane, guest soloist — I'm the hostess for the Christmas Show. I fly in from New York the day after Thanksgiving and join the rest of the cast that has already been in rehearsals. Lyn begins teaching me the staging the morning I arrive.
Vince Leseney, director of the Pops Chorale — My job is to prepare the music with the chorale, and try to keep it in shape during staging. I also write all of the banter and the lyrics to our occasional showtune-turned-christmas songs.
Amanda Foust, scenic designer/technical director — I design the physical surroundings in which the action takes place. This year, 90 percent of the onstage scenery is new, with the remaining 10 percent being altered for a new look. I build many of the new scenic elements and coordinate all the onstage technical elements of the show. Our goal this year was to add more color and depth. Many of the new scenic elements are a bit chameleon-like, capable of changing color or shape to suit the feel of the scene.
Alicia Clark, dancer — I am the featured dancer in the tap numbers and I am also one of the dancing Mistletoes.
Arden Hearne, children's ensemble — We will be singing some of my favorite Christmas songs. We will probably dance a little and I think we are jumping rope.
Lyric Lloyd, children's ensemble — I bring excitement and enthusiasm to this production.
Levine — Since the first production.
Cramer — I was with Yuletide from 1990 to 2000. I've helmed this production since 2004.
McLane — This will be my second time hosting the Christmas Show.
Leseney — I have been involved with the Christmas Show since 1998.
Foust — This is my fifth year.
Clark — This will be my third year.
Hearne — This is my second year.
Lloyd — I have been associated with the Christmas Show for about five years.
Levine — The look on the cast's faces at those “first time” experiences — when the ensemble hears the star sing one of those classic numbers, when the star hears the chorus sing one of those glorious, huge arrangements and the first time we all hear one of the new orchestrations or see marvelous new lighting and scenic elements.
Cramer — I enjoy both dance rehearsals at OU and the rehearsals we have down at the Civic Center before we add production elements. I love the nitty-gritty of the blocking and staging process.
McLane — The first time singing through the show with the orchestra is always thrilling. I also love the energy from the ensemble. Everyone is upbeat and positive. Of course, it's daunting when everyone around you knows the dancing and staging but the kids are all so talented and helpful.
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‘The Christmas Show'
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.
Information: 842-5387 or www.okcphilharmonic.org.