The 14th annual Christmas extravaganza, A St Clair Christmas, was held these past two weekends at the Chrysler Theatre. Each year St Clair college students in Music Theatre Performance and Entertainment Technology produce a Christmas show as part of their curriculum. A professional creative team works with third year students to devise a production from the ground up. Led by Production Manager Dan Rehel, the sets are created by St Clair’s Entertainment Technology students who also are in charge of lighting, audio and stage management during the show. The result is a slick paced show that runs like clockwork with no intermission for a total of just over an hour in length.
This year’s theme was the North Pole, and there’s a conflict among the reindeer that threatens Christmas. The story line follows the reindeer and their attempt to resolve their differences and pull it all together in time for Christmas Eve. The musical numbers were based around the music of the 50’s and 60’s and featured a variety of rock and roll, R & B and Christmas songs of that era. Some of the songs were changed lyrically to fit the story line such as the opening number, “The Reindeer Fly Tonight”, based on The Lion Sleeps Tonight, “Snowman” based on Sam and Dave’s Soulman and “Somewhere There Is a Tree” sung to the tune of Beyond the Sea.
There were also more traditional Christmas pop songs performed such as Winter Wonderland and Blue Christmas. The dance numbers were choreographed by renowned choreographers Melissa Williams and Kristyn Wiklanski with additional choreography by third year student Kihanna Becke who also was one of the lead performers. In all, 35 performers graced the stage at various points during the show, dancing, singing and moving scenery like a well-oiled machine.
The costume design by Agatha Knelson stayed true to the musical era and the red and green stripes, polka dots and plaid outfits gave it a rustic Christmas feel. The set was simple but effective with colourful back lighting and plywood trees giving the feeling of being in the far north. Performing the musical score was a six-person professional band of talented multi-instrumentalists perched high atop a platform at the back of the set, directed by music director and keyboardist Mike Karloff.
I give Artistic Director Katherine Kaszas a lot of credit for pulling the whole thing together and making it flow. It must be difficult coordinating the students from three different levels but they make it look easy. It’s a great show and a fantastic way to start the holiday season and get in the Christmas mood. I expect many of these students will graduate to professional theatre or performing on cruise ships.
Photos by Dan Boshart