Evergreen Children’s Chorale rings in holiday season

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By Sara Miller

For almost two decades, the Evergreen Children’s Chorale has kicked off the mountain area’s holidays with its seasonal show. From year to year, audiences fondly remember the last quiet strains of “Silent Night” echoing through Center/Stage. This year will be no different, with a holiday show that is sure to please young and old.

There will be some differences, however. In the midst of the snowflakes and twinkling lights that usually set the stage for the chorale concert will be hundreds of stuffed animals. This year’s theme is “All Creatures Great and Small,” and scenic designer Larry Sohrweid has filled the stage with cute critters both large and tiny.

By far the cutest of all the critters are the chorale members themselves. The audition-only chorus is made up of 53 students from fourth through eighth grade. This dedicated group of songsters will warm your hearts with their interpretation of an animal holiday.

The first half of the show takes its cue from the show’s theme, with songs honoring three little fishies, the dog that is your constant companion and a menagerie of other blissful beasts. Each year, artistic director Elaine Sohrweid and assistant director Lindy Casados compile a lineup that best features the chorale’s mix of voices.

The singers are accompanied by a live, four-piece ensemble, and several of the songs include dance numbers choreographed by Pat Selby. The show is packed with storytelling, instrument playing and the chorale’s lively brand of holiday cheer.

The show’s second half turns to more traditional holiday fare, although the collection of tunes is still jazzy and fresh. One in particular brings a smile to all, as that oft-forgotten reindeer who comes right before Rudolph finally gets his five minutes of fame. “Blitzen’s Boogie” is an old-timey boogie-woogie number about Santa’s helper who loves to dance.

Anne Vickstrom, a chorale parent volunteer, lights up as she describes the show. Vickstrom’s daughter, Caroline, is in eighth grade and is enjoying a last bittersweet year in the group.

“The Children’s Chorale is such a family affair,” says Vickstrom. “It’s a talented group of kids and an amazingly supportive group of parents behind the scenes. We’re all working together to make the ECC shows wonderful community events.”

In the case of “All Creatures Great and Small,” it seems they’ve achieved that goal with flying colors. The show has something for everyone.

“There is enough dancing and singing onstage to keep it interesting for even the youngest audience members,” says Vickstrom. “And adults always love ‘Silent Night’ as the closing piece. We invite chorale alumni to join in onstage, and it’s really a treat to see.”

Evergreen Children’s Chorale presents “All Creatures Great and Small”

At Center/Stage Theatre in Evergreen

Dec. 4, 5 and 6 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.

Tickets: adult/general, $12; seniors (60-plus) and students, $10. Tickets may be purchased by calling 303-674-9004, or e-mail lynn@evergreenchildrenschorale.com.