By MIKE CHAIKEN
The Holiday Showcase of Stars lost its reason for existence in June.
The annual event was launched as a fundraiser for St. Anthony School. However, after decades of existence, the school was shuttered before last summer.
But as the adage says, the show must go on. And the Holiday Showcase of Stars returns on Saturday, this time as a fundraiser for the city’s two remaining elementary parochial schools.
Debbie Schur, the longtime organizer of the holiday variety show explained, “With the closing of St. Anthony School a decision had to be made and our core group all agreed that Catholic school education in Bristol would continue to benefit.”
She explained, “Parish priests and principals at both St. Joseph and St. Matthew were extremely enthusiastic about supporting and promoting the event, as well as keeping the tradition going.”
“Bristol is blessed with wonderful public and parochial schools,” said Schur. “It is our belief that our citizens have a right to choose which schools are best for their individual children and so we will continue to support the Catholic schools in Bristol.”
Even though the beneficiary of the show’s ticket sales has changed, Schur said the show itself hasn’t.
“Quite honestly, it feels like it hasn’t missed a beat,” said Schur. “Besides initially adjusting to a new rehearsal venue (since St. Anthony School wasn’t available anymore), it has all fallen into place.”
“The toughest part is that a few of our showcase family were unable to take part this year and that has proven to be more of an emotional hurdle for me personally,” said Schur. “But we have new faces and voices and new people have stepped up to assist and that has been encouraging and gratifying. The show itself has a basic format that we play with each year.”
The theme this year reflects, however, the transition that the event has had to made.
This year, the Holiday Showcase of Stars is called “Can’t Stop the Spirit.”
“When St. Anthony school closed, we were all approached by numerous people, about the show ending,” said Schur. “Quite honestly for our tight knit group, that was never an option. Combine our group’s ‘fight instinct,’ if you will, with all the unrest in our country and in our world, ‘Can’t Stop the Spirit!,’ in some ways became a battle cry.”
This year’s Holiday Showcase of Stars is its 13th year as a holiday entertainment tradition in Bristol.
“I think the heart and spirit of our cast help create a very contagious atmosphere and tradition for people,” said Schur. “For many it is their kick off to the Christmas season and it is fun entertainment for the entire family.”
Holiday music endures because it is a tradition, said Schur. Plus, she said, “With different performers performing different versions, even though you always know the song, there is always a spin or surprise.”
The showcase organizers have long prided themselves on the talent of the children in the show, many who return show after show.
“That is one of the things I personally look forward to each year,” Schur, “watching them grow, not only in stature but in their personalities and characters is such fun. We have a set of twins, the Porcaros, that have been with us since age 3, almost their whole lives and their mom told me they are moving. I am heartbroken to see them leave. They have been a part of our family. So, it’s tough to see them grow up or move on.”
The adults also all donate their time to the show. “That unto itself is probably what separates this show from the rest,” said Schur. “People are willing to give their time, their talents and their hearts to this event is so rewarding. And I think it sets a good example to the kids and teens in the show.”
“Every person is blessed with some kind of talent. And I’m sure we all know people who hoard their talents. When God shines a light we don’t hide it under a bushel basket,” said Schur.
“Hopefully, in our show we make people comfortable with sharing their gifts,” said Schur. “And year after year, God sends us who and what we need to produce this show.”
For those who turn out this year, beyond the cause, Schur said they should expect “great talent, great fun, great memories, and of course, great spirit.”
The Holiday Showcase of Stars presents… “Can’t Stop The Spirit” on Saturday, Dec. 3 at St. Paul Catholic High School, 1001 Stafford Ave., Bristol at 7 p.m.