Again this year, dozens upon dozens of our friends and neighbors have come together to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season by creating another production of the Living Christmas Tree at First Covenant Church in Jamestown.
Once again the traffic and the fireworks from the annual Christmas parade made everything a bit more difficult, but the event went on, and a very full congregation at the large church, clearly appreciated it greatly.
The tradition is that a large wooden Christmas tree has been erected in the church's chancel. More than 60 singers from all around the area stood in rows, their gold robes and red ties forming ornaments for the giant tree, which both had lights attached to it, and focused on it.
On elevated platforms to either side of the tree, actors, dancers and other talented folks acted out both the Biblical events described in the music, and contemporary representations of how those events reflect in our lives today.
The cantata which represented the majority of the 90-minutes performance was ''An Evening in December,'' by Tom Fettke, David Huntsinger, and Robert Sterling. At the foot of the tree, an orchestra of more than 20 instrumentalists accompanied and played seasonal works which all contributed greatly to the evenings success.
They set the stage for the performance with a most enjoyable overture, composed of a medley of both sacred and secular, traditional carols, arranged by Leroy Anderson.
Bryan A. Bogey conducted both orchestra and singers, and I am certain that to him goes much of the credit for the excellent unison within parts and the lovely harmonies. I think the singing and instrumental performing was among the best of the many productions which I have heard at holiday seasons over the past many decades.
On the other hand, I think the music of this year's cantata was among the ones I have liked the least. The composers seemed unable to decide what the feeling of the performance should be, pulling what seemed like stunts, such as breaking into a soft shoe at the moment of Christ's birth, and doing musical bursts more typical of Broadway glitz than holiday joy.
Still, the chorus was well prepared and very talented. The accompaniment was very fine.
Clear voiced and expressive narrators were Brian Binkley and Marie Lindahl. Actors were Annalise Rough as Mary, Carlton Swanson as Joseph, Bob Leon as the prophet, and Dylan Lydell as the drummer boy. Dancers were Jennie Cross, Amelia Dolce, and Anna Paterniti.
Soloists from among the singers were Autumn Bower-Mazzone, George S. Coulter, Margie Coulter, Tony Dolce, Julie Fried, Gail Grundstrom, Matt Kindberg, Adam Rohler, Steve Sirocky, Steve Sipior, Chris Suchow, and Kristen Vanstrom.
Members of the youth choir were Erika Binkley, Hannah Binkley, Samantha Bresson, Ellen Cross, Jennie Cross, Amelia Dolce, Christian Dolce, Brittany Donaldson, Erin Hagadorn, Emily Hall, Brady Lindstrom, Macey Lundmark, Dylan Lydell, Elle Noon, Abbey Nordwall, Anna Paterniti, Lauren Peters, Emma Schnars, and Elise Swanson.
To the other actors, the people who constructed the giant tree itself, and who fed the company, made the costumes, helped everyone to park the cars, ushered, and all the other many jobs involved, a sincere round of applause was surely earned.
The Living Christmas Tree repeats four more times during the current weekend.