The leaves have changed colors, the smell of apple cider is in the air, and yes, fall is here. But inside a choir room deep within this school, it feels a whole lot more like Christmas. Festive costumes are pinned and measured, choir members practice their routines and songs of the holidays can be heard echoing through the halls of the choir department. It may only be November but these tell-tale signs can only mean one thing: Holiday Spectacular, the performing arts department’s kick-off to the holiday season and the choir department’s biggest performance of the year, will arrive shortly.
Every year since 1991 the Holiday Spectacular all-choir extravaganza carries on a tradition of excellence for this school, and this year promises to be no exception. In fact, this year, according to Ambassador
and senior Sarah Stoesz, Holiday Spectacular will take on a new twist for its 20th anniversary this year.
“It’s usually dance numbers in the first act, and then the second act would be stand and sing numbers. It’s been like that for the past three years but this year, they’re (the directors) going to change it. They’re making a storyline with it which I don’t think we’ve ever had before. In the first act we’re going to be in like a winter wonderland and then the second act is the North Pole,” Stoesz said.
Integrating a story line and dance numbers into the second act are just a few of the surprises in store for a predictably massive audience this year. However, according to Stoesz, one tradition is sure to remain the same.
“Every year every choir sings ‘Silent Night’ so that’s really cool. We will definitely still be doing that this year, despite some of the changes that are being made,” Stoesz said.
After being a heavily involved choir member for four years, Stoesz said that she expects her last Holiday Spectacular performance this year to be a little sad. On the contrary, Katie Doman, Counterpoints member and freshman, said she is thrilled to see what her first Holiday Spectacular performance will entail.
“As an eighth grader last year I went to Holiday Spec for the first time and it was amazing. I am so excited to get to be involved with everything this year,” Doman said.
Doman anticipates a lot of craziness as Holiday Spectacular approaches closer based on what she has heard from the upperclassmen who have gone through it before.
“There is so much hard work that goes into it and I know that they spend a ton of money for the costumes and stuff, though, so it is a pretty big deal,” Doman said.
According to Lamonte Kuskye, choir director and Holiday Spectacular producer, Holiday Spectacular is always the most attended show of the year at CHS.
“It’s completely crazy. This year the first day the public ticket sale went on, three of the five shows sold out completely on the main floor,” Kuskye said.
In fact, it has become an annual tradition that parents and CHS choir fans line the hallway to the bookstore, sitting in lawn chairs or on the floor as they wait to buy their tickets.
Stoesz said she understands the pressure that some might face with the often sold-out shows, but she tries not to let it get to her, even as opening night gets closer.
“I really don’t feel pressure, but we do work really hard in our classes, and you want it to be really good, so sometimes, I mean, if some of the numbers aren’t polished before, it does get a little stressful,” Stoesz said.
Beyond the changes in the actual show, Holiday Spectacular will have a different feel this year for another reason: choir director Ann Conrad, who has been involved with the Holiday Spectacular production for all 20 years and has been a choir teacher at Carmel for 35 years, will be out this year as she fights breast cancer.
“It’s been so nice to support Mrs. Conrad with all she’s been going through, and you know, it’s too bad she can’t be here, but she’s working with the costumes so she’s still kind of involved,” Doman said. Conrad was supposed to be Doman’s choir teacher this year before she was diagnosed with cancer.
“Without (Conrad) being here this year, I’ve taken on a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that she would be doing,” Kuskye said.
As the rehearsals for Holiday Spectacular culminate and eventually reach opening night, all 12 choirs will face an increasingly intense workload as after school practices begin, but according to Stoesz, the effort is completely worth it.
“My favorite part about choir is just seeing the finished product and working really hard for that. All of the people also are just so amazing. It’s such a big show and a big opportunity. I think this year could possibly be the best year ever,” Stoesz said.
The first Holiday Spectacular show is scheduled to open on Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m in the Dale E. Graham auditorium. There will also be shows on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and on Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 to $15, depending on the location of the seat, and are available at the bookstore.
“I think it’s going to be a very moving and touching show this year. There’s some really wonderful moments, and I’m just anxious to try out this new format this year. I always like doing something different,” Kuskye said.