The holiday season is often filled with many family traditions, such as trimming a Christmas tree, caroling or lighting candles on the menorah.
These annual customs are part of what make the season so special, and the city of Birmingham is not without its own tradition. For more than a dozen years, Red Mountain Theatre Company has set the stage for magic, hope, family and the spirit of giving through its annual holiday production.
“It’s a tradition for a lot of families,” said Conservatory and music director Katie Holmes. “There’s always some sense of familiarity; there’s always some through line of hope, fun, joy, holidays and family. It’s a very welcoming environment—a breath of fresh air in the holiday season.”
More than 60 Conservatory students, from all over Jefferson and Shelby County, come together with an all-star cast of Birmingham’s best local talent to perform heart-warming classics, such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” alongside several humorous numbers, such as “Santa Got Stuck on 280.”
Joining the three Conservatory groups—The Previews, Spotlights and Performing Ensemble—are Lonnie Parsons, Amy Johnson, Brandon McCall and Kelli Dodd, who have all been performing in the Birmingham area for many years.
While the 9- to 18-year-old RMTC Conservatory students serve as the backbone of the performances, Holiday Spectacular is anything but a youth production.
“It’s very professional,” Holmes said. “We have very high expectations for the kids who are in the Conservatory. We do the best that we can to showcase them at their optimum level of skill. It’s a great showcase for all three of the groups.”
Parsons, who has participated in about half a dozen of RMTC’s holiday productions, said the student performers are top-notch, and people are often surprised by what they can do. From elaborate rockette numbers to the iconic finale, he said the kids shine brightest in the show.
“The older we get the more the holidays become a dreaded time of the year because of all the responsibilities we have,” Parson admitted. “When you watch those kids in this show, the joy comes out and you are reminded it is a special time of year. It makes you a little kid again.”
Every season features new songs and medleys, keeping the material fresh for audiences who return year after year. This time, Parsons said he is excited to bring a little bit of his own flair to Holiday Spectacular with an Elton John-like medley.
The kids always seem to have favorite numbers as well, according to Holmes, but for the most part, she said the students are most thrilled to be back on stage. The long hours of rehearsal have paid off when it’s finally time to open the show.
“These kids are so happy to be performing,” Holmes said. “Some of them get more nervous, but most of them are really excited to finally be getting close to performing this for family and friends. That’s why they are here in the Conservatory; that’s the thing they love the most.”
RMTC’s Holiday Spectacular ’16 opens Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the RMTC Cabaret Theatre. Shows continue on through Dec. 18, playing Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., as well as Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets start at $19.