by MIKE CHAIKEN
The performers at the annual Holiday Showcase of Stars become a family each year, according to its director Debbie Schur. But the show also helps make its audience feel like part of the family during the holidays.
“Shine the Light That Is You!” this year’s edition of the Holiday Showcase of Stars, takes the stage Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol.
For those who may be missing friends and family who have passed away, or those whose families may not be nearby, Schur said the show, which features the talents of adults and children from the Bristol community, is a good opportunity to get out of the house and mingle.
“We try to create an atmosphere of family, friends and community with our theme and music, which we hope is contagious to those attending,” said Schur of the long-running musical tradition. “It is a nice, comfortable way to bring in the holiday season, and for those struggling, it can be a way to ease into the season in a comforting way.”
Schur said the show, which features music fitting for the holiday season, is more than just a way to be entertained. It is a good opportunity for audiences to mingle before the curtain rises and when the performers take a break at intermission.
“We draw such a varied group of entertainers and audience members,” said Schur. “The last few years we have had many community leaders join us, as participants and audience members. The outpouring of support from these leaders is very heartening.”
“Intermission is an event unto itself, as we serve homemade pastries and it’s wonderful to see everyone enjoying the food and fellowship, along with the great raffle prizes,” said Schur.
“I think it is a perfect snapshot of the All Heart community (Bristol’s city motto),” said Schur. All of these people, from different walks of life, coming together to share their God given talents for their fellow community members to enjoy. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
One of the trademarks of the show is the spotlight it places on the children who are performing in the chorus.
“We have watched a lot of kids grow up through this show,” said Schur. “We try to bring out the best in each performer. The amount of time commitment is minimal for the finished product we present.”
Each year, said Schur, she is surprised by what the children can accomplish.
“(I’m amazed at) their uncanny ability to learn a song the first week of rehearsal and come back the next week and know it beginning to end. They are sponges,” said Schur.
“And most importantly, (I’m surprised by) the way they meet new chorus members and by show night, they are best buddies,” said the director. “It’s so heartwarming.”
As for the adults in the cast, Schur said, “We have a lot of fun. When they start singing and they join in with their harmonies and create those amazing numbers, it never ceases to amaze me.”
“Maria Salice, our music director, is surely one of the finest voices to come out of Bristol and her enthusiasm and creativity are truly a blessing to our production,” said Schur.
With the number of holiday songs out there, Schur said the selection for the show’s set list for the following year’s show begins once the curtain closes on the current show.
Schur said Salice will contact her immediately with ideas for new songs. “That sets me in motion thinking about themes.”
These themes, said Schur, “reflect the atmosphere of our city or country.”
“While things are tumultuous nationally, our community is in a renaissance of sorts, with so much positivity,” said Schur. “The more people give of their talents, the more a community grows. ‘Shine the Light that is You’ (the theme this year) was born out of that philosophy.”
The Holiday Showcase of Stars will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 at St. Paul Catholic High School at 7 p.m. Adult tickets are $12. Tickets for children 12 and under are $5. For tickets, call (860) 585-6039.
Proceeds benefit both St. Joseph and St. Matthew parochial schools in Bristol.