A Storybook Christmas
Writer / Tonja Talley
Photos / Provided
“A feast for the eyes and ears. ‘Spectacular’ is unquestionably the best word to describe the program,” said Melody Milstead. “I stop short of saying last year’s performance reminded me of a Broadway theater production. The show embraced the elements of the room and talent using high-level sound, lighting and theatrics that were exceptional.”
A must-see for the whole family, few celebrations during this festive time warm the heart and prepare the soul for Christmas more than Grace Assembly of God’s “Singing Christmas Tree Spectacular.” From the well-loved lines of the Christmas story recorded in Luke’s gospel to a real live upbeat Christmas parade, this year’s Spectacular promises to be like a storybook Christmas in music.
The Living Tree
Amongst the parade and pageantry of the Spectacular stands the centerpiece of the extravaganza, a living Christmas tree. The adult choir sings the music from the eight tiers that make up the 25-foot tree. Built by the men of Grace Assembly, the specifications allow the tree’s structure to support 75 singers, accompanied by their worship band. Wooden platforms mounted to a steel structure supports the singers through each of the three performances.
Once built, the root structure receives its “branches.” A committee of women attach greenery to sections of chicken wire. Turned perpendicular, these segments attach to the front of each tier. The 3-D structure now gives the appearance of an evergreen Christmas tree, while the singers resemble the tree’s ornaments. The final decorative touches include lights, ribbon swags, poinsettias and the star.
Sights and Sounds
“We couldn’t do the Spectacular without the many volunteers and staff that are excellent in their crafts,” said media director David Jones. “The production and media teams consists of 20 people, working on audio, lighting, video, stage, photographers, graphic design and social media.”
Planning for the production takes hundreds of hours in prep time. The media crew has to be thoughtful about the programming of lights and video to coincide with the choir and live band, which brings a new element to the stage for 2015. By October, the finalized plans pass to the video team who work on creating the video elements for the 20’ x 60’ video wall.
Starting Monday of the show, the teams rely on their planning specs to simplify the programming process as they have under 72 hours to get it correct. Those details include hanging and programming all 50+ intelligent light fixtures and snow machines with the confetti cannons, haze, video wall and all of the audio programming. “Once we put the whole puzzle together with all the lights, the videos on the 20’ x 60’ video wall, the main choir, the kid’s choir and the audience’s reaction…it is so worth it,” said David.
Selecting the production’s musical arrangements, choir director Traci Murray desires fun, joyful and upbeat songs, which tell a story, lift the spirits or give hope to the heart. The 2015 song list highlights a wide array of traditional and contemporary Christmas tunes. One such fun and upbeat melody sure to delight the audience comes from the beloved 1954 Christmas movie “White Christmas,” entitled “Snow.” Another dramatic number shows the choirs, a string quartet and music director Steve Sherwood accompanied on the piano to their rendition of Leonard Cohan’s “Hallelujah.”
“We are always adding new ideas to the program, all along keeping with our traditions,” said Traci.
For 14 years, it has been the pleasure of Grace Assembly to bring something to everyone in the family through the Singing Christmas Tree Spectacular. They invite you and your family or friends to experience this iconic event. Admission is free. Childcare is also available at no charge, infant through 5 years of age.
Come and be entertained by the singing Christmas tree adult choir, children’s choir and instrumentalists. Fill the senses with the wonder of that star-studded night in Bethlehem during the live nativity pageant, and for the finale, tap your toes to the march of the Christmas parade with Olaf, Gingerbread, Woody, Santa Claus and more.
Performance dates will be December 11-13 starting at 7 p.m. Grace Assembly recommends arriving when the doors open at 6 p.m. Before the performance, join the cast in the hub area. Warm refreshments and Christmas treats will be served for a minimal cost. No seat reservations accepted.