Christmas Show warms the heart

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Democrat photo/Kerry Hays Audra Shumaker and Bradley Lueckenhoff entertained Sunday's audience at The Christmas Show with a pre-show performance of several Christmas songs and praise songs. Due to inclement weather, the annual performances were rescheduled from Thursday and Friday to Sunday afternoon.

A little over 100 people braved the cold and icy conditions to attend The Christmas Show held on Sunday, Dec. 8 at the FEMA Event Center in Cassville. This show was scheduled to provide an opportunity for the event to be performed since the Thursday and Friday shows were cancelled due to the weather.

"With the amount time of that our performers put into the program, we just really wanted to make sure that they had an opportunity to perform it, and we wanted our community to be able to enjoy it to see their hard work and get into the Christmas spirit," said Mindy Atherton, director of the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The performers themselves were thankful the show was re-scheduled and expressed appreciation to those who attended the event.

Democrat photo/Kerry Hays Santa Claus visited with Rielynn Endicott at Sunday's performance of The Christmas Show, held at the FEMA Event Center in Cassville. Santa had candy canes to pass out to youngsters attending the event.

"We're glad to be doing a Christmas Show, since we've worked really hard," said Greg Beck, musical director of Hometown Sound and the RedHots. "Unfortunately, there'll just be one. Look at the people coming in, that's dedicated people right there -- people who will get out in weather like this."

Sunday's event had only a few modifications caused by the inclement weather conditions. Two singers were unable to make it and the performer's lost crucial rehearsal time in the center. Nevertheless, none of these issues were evident to those who attended the performance.

"The rehearsal we had on Tuesday bears no resemblance to the performance we had today," said Beck who expressed his opinion that everyone involved used the extra time to work on their songs.

Democrat photo/Kerry Hays John Lueckenhoff, at center, kicked off Sunday's performance of The Christmas Show with a cover of the Little River Band's "Jesus, Oh what a Wonderful Child." He was accompanied by members of the HomeTown Sound and The RedHots. Members of the HomeTown Sound band include: Edie Thompson, Robert Jones, Jack Reed, Bruce Nickle, Steve Lyons, Brenda Beck and Greg Beck. Members of the RedHots include: Jennifer Evans, Debbie Nickle, Sara Sandoval, JaDonna Hoover and Don Bowen.

Brenda Beck, percussionist for the event and wife of the director, shared her thoughts before the performance and expressed how important it was for the musicians.

"We know it's been a wild and crazy ride these last few days, but it's a great show and these singers and the band have worked way too hard not to perform," said Beck who noted that some of those involved traveled from as far away as Springfield, Webb City and Joplin.

Bob Allan served as emcee for the Christmas Show - a role he has played for each of the winter events. Allan takes his role seriously and prepares for each show by spending hours researching a song's history and interesting facts.

"Some of the songs are so new that there's very little information about them," said Allan. "I try to throw in some tidbits of Christmas facts that I feel might be interesting and appropriate for the occasion."

A pre-show performance was sung by Audra Shumaker and Bradley Lueckenhoff, who also sang and accompanied the duo on guitar. Their voices blended well together in the simple, but beautiful arrangements they performed.

The songs selected for Sunday's program included a combination of traditional and contemporary Christmas songs performed in a variety of different styles. Each of the singers tried to make the song their own and the support provided by the band and back-up singers was evident. Of particular note were the tight and very professional harmonies provided by the RedHots. There were moments, if one closed their eyes and just listened, that it was hard to believe that this was Cassville, and not some larger venue.

None of this would have been possible without the efforts of Ken Latschar who was responsible for managing the sound enhancement. Latschar's job wasn't noticed -- a true compliment to his skill in balancing each of the performers' sound.

This was the first show in which T.J. Matthews has performed with the group. Matthews sang a song entitled "Cold December Night" first made popular by Michael Buble.

"I was pretty nervous about this," said Matthews. "But I was really eager to get on that stage, and let the Christmas spirit shine through."

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