BTE original Christmas special begins Friday
BLOOMSBURG – Don’t expect to hear ” Bah. Humbug!” or even “God bless us, everyone” uttered on the Alvina Krause Theatre stage, 226 Center St., this holiday season.
Instead of Ebenzer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and all the familiar characters appearing in an adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble is presenting “A Very Special Christmas Special” beginning Friday and running till Dec. 28.
Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with 3 p.m. matinees Sundays. The Annual Food Preview Nov. 30 has general admission to a 2 p.m. performance for one non-perishable food item.
Although BTE has presented several original plays, this is the first time that the professional group has created a holiday show, complete with original Christmas songs.
Set in 1969, Andy Billiams is hosting his annual technicolor Christmas Spectacular – and wouldn’t you know it – live from the little town of Bloomsburg. And Billiams even has a quartet of his brothers always ready to vocalize. (If this all sounds a bit like Andy Williams annual Christmas show, any resemblance is not entirely coincidental.)
The BTE show is directed by ensemble member Cassandra Pisieczko with Richard Cannaday’s original tunes, including “Christmas Coconuts” and “Christmas, Christmas Season” parodying the holiday tunes of the ’60s. The songs have been pre-recorded at a professional studio with tracks providing the merry musical accompaniment.
Cannaday wrote the show which was workshopped last season with popular results, prompting BTE to plug “A Very Special Christmas Special” into this season’s Main Stage lineup.
Andrew Hubatsek plays the fun-loving, smiling Andy Billiams with his singing brothers played by Aaron White and ensemble members Cannaday, James Goode and Daniel Roth.
Affliated artist Samantha Norton plays Billiams’ wife and joins Elizabeth Dowd as the singing Lemon Sisters.
Plenty of laughs are promised from the nostalgic sketches, spirited dances, and one-of-a-kind commercials for Bloomsburg businesses. Although the show’s tone is light-hearted, a few dramatic references will evoke America’s outlook during the Vietnam War era.
With television cameras on stage and monitors set up in the theatre, the holiday show is “televised” to the audience as the “… Special Christmas Special” is performed “live” for all of Andy Billiams’ adoring fans.
In addition to the evening performances, BTE has scheduled eight 10 a.m. shows for area students on Dec.4, 5, 10, 11, 17,18 and 19.
Student groups will be an active part of the “television audience.” Students also are included in the show’s cast with two casts of the student actors rotating performances.
As a bonus for the students attending, in addition to seeing the full length musical production, students are invited to take peek backstage for an unique view of mounting a theatrical show. After each performance, students will also be able to meet and greet the adult actors.
More than 1,500 students already are registered to see the show. School officials interested in bringing a group or classes to “A Very Special Christmas Special” should contact Paula Henry, BTE’s school program director, at 570-458-4075.
This home-spun look at simpler times is family-friendly entertainment and should easily kickstart the holiday spirit. BTE says this year theatergoers don’t have to worry about anyone moaning about “… an undigested piece of beef.”
The “Special …” fun begins when the audience hears “Stand by. Three… Two … One … You’re on the air!”