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Orchestra's 'Christmas Show' brimming with magical delights

This year's edition of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic's “Christmas Show” is nothing short of magical
Modified: November 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm •  Published: December 1, 2012

The second act opener, titled “Jukebox Christmas Eve,” took its inspiration from the world of 1960s pop music, with fine renditions of “Big Girls Don't Cry,” “Sherry,” “Blue Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Going from high-energy secular numbers into musical choices that range from the introspective to the wistful can be difficult to negotiate, but the cast managed the transition with poise and confidence.

Ragusa, whose comedy antics and physical appearance brought to mind Tina Fey and Christine Ebersole, had no trouble changing the mood for the poignance of “Count Your Blessings.” Sitting alone on stage, Ragusa turned the Irving Berlin classic into an evocative Judy Garland moment.

The evening's element of surprise surfaced once again in “Star of Bethlehem,” this time with an unexpectedly heart-rending performance by Ragusa and the women of the chorus that gradually built into a gloriously sung ballad about a child's view of the Nativity.

The tears that welled up in my eyes during “Star of Bethlehem” finally broke free in “The Prayer,” the evening's emotional high point, with Ragusa, chorus and orchestra weaving a magical spell that dares the audience not to be touched.

And when Oklahoma City University senior Colin Anderson began singing the number's Italian lyrics in a voice both pure and resonant, this number was a potent reminder of music's capability to touch our hearts. Keep an eye on Anderson — his future looks to be quite promising.

With so many technical, musical, theatrical and visual components, it would be easy for “The Christmas Show” to have the occasional misfire. But the joy, the laughter, the emotional resonance and the musical satisfaction this production delivers makes it the must-see event of the holiday season.

— Rick Rogers

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