This entry was posted on Sunday, December 12th, 2010 at 5:55 pm and is filed under Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
I don’t know about you, but this year has been perhaps one of the busiest Holiday seasons I’ve ever remembered. There are many reasons why we all get bogged down during the holidays. All of the “regular” reasons for me however, were wiped out when I got a last minute booking to take our touring cirque style show to the Middle East to headline at the famed “Casino du Liban” in Beirut, Lebanon. So this year, Alek and I will have the pleasure of enjoying one of the most non-traditional Christmas’s we ever have. I look forward to sharing this special season with those of a different culture, and even though it’s in the Middle East, the nation is about 43% Christian so I’m told that it perhaps won’t be as “different” as I expect.
For whatever the reason is, we all seem to get pulled in way too many different directions over the holidays as our over-scheduled, over-shopped, over-Facebooked lives often get so complicated during this time, that we don’t really take the time to enjoy the magic of Christmas. Children have a unique way of not letting that happen, as they often slam us down to reality when we are asked such questions such as “does Santa Clause really know if I’ve been bad or good Daddy?”. That beautiful boy just has a way of just bringing me back to the moment with questions like that, and it really makes me aware of the importance of living life in the moment, and allowing myself to enjoy the magic of Christmas.
Remember when you were young and still believed? Remember the annual Christmas specials that would come on TV? Burl Ives in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? The old Bing Crosby and Andy Williams Christmas Specials (if you’re under 50, google them… they were amazing television entertainment… your family would probably still love them!)
Well, when you’re sifting through all the old TV specials on Youtube, you’ll probably see a chorus of bright eyed and talented singers that remind you of a 1970’s “Glee” that always backed up Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, and all of the big stars at Christmas time. They sang like angels, and were like a Broadway Chorus for all the Hollywood celebrities on their records, TV Specials and stage shows in Las Vegas. The name of the group (have you guessed it yet?) was “The Young Americans” and I am thrilled to tell you that not only do they still exist today, they are bigger and better than ever. One of the most magical experiences I’ve had this season so far was to head out to Orange County to see “The Magic of Christmas” starring The Young Americans. I was especially interested in seeing the show this year for Alek and I just saw them on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade where 60 of them dressed like Penguins and performed a terrific number that looked like it could have been right out of the movie “Happy Feet”.
Anyone who knows me knows of my passion for music, and the importance I feel that it plays in our children’s lives. Unfortunately, one place that often doesn’t exist anymore is in our schools. One thing that is amazing about The Young Americans, besides performing all over the globe for almost 50 years now, is that they have dedicated their organization to travelling throughout different countries, bringing music education and experience to youth throughout the world in high schools through their music outreach program. You see, it isn’t just here in the U.S. that budgets have been slashed and music and arts programs lost in the process. It’s a world-wide epidemic and The Young Americans have a mission to change all that. And change is just what they are doing. Through their music and outreach tours, they are bringing new hope to many through their global music education workshops.
Putting that aside for a moment, watching this show was so much more than just sifting through some old Christmas TV specials that reminded us of our childhood. The group has evolved to become an entertainment spectacular that is literally mesmerizing to see! It features a cast of 200 performers with over 3000 costume changes. I’ve seen the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show and it does not even compare to “The Magic of Christmas”. I counted 5 costume changes and 3 complete scenic changes within the first opening number. I mean Cher doesn’t even do that in Las Vegas! The audience was kind of sitting there with their mouths wide open at the sheer spectacle of it all. And just when 40 “bakers” are doing Russian Splits in the air as they bake their holiday cookies, and tin soldiers dance with Christmas toys that come to life, you blink your eye and you’re suddenly transported to a gorgeous cathedral with 200 singers in black and white singing Handel’s Messiah like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir were suddenly just airlifted onto the set as one piece. How 200 dancing “Happy Feet” penguins turn into a classical choir within the 10 seconds of applause really kind of put a different spin on the word “magic” from their show’s title. I mean they really hit you from every angle.
Like a child that drops a wondrous question about Santa Claus during your holiday stress, this show slams you right back into the moment as you’re flooded with memories of Christmas past while you find yourself getting caught up in sheer “joy” – you know, that word that could otherwise just be a descriptive greeting on the cards you send out.
The Magic of Christmas has run at the La Mirada Theater of the Performing Arts for the past 20 years I’m told, and although their run is finished there for this season, if you happen to be in Palm Springs, you can see this terrific show at the Palm Springs Convention Center on December 17, 18 and 19. You can also learn more about The Young Americans at www.youngamericans.org.
Whether you have a family or not, I really hope that you will take the time out this year to experience “joy” this season. If scheduling one more thing is just too much for your holiday “stressometer” than do something random. Pull out that DVD of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Go see The Young Americans. Pull out the “Partridge Family Christmas Card” album or what the hell… get a babysitter and go out to Mo’s and see the annual Dreamgirls Review Christmas show (right up there with one of my favorite annual Christmas things to do). Whatever you do, Alek and I wish you much joy, and that you truly do experience the magic of the season with family.