Singing Christmas Tree restored

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One of the most exciting and anticipated projects of the Christmas season is the second coming of that much-loved Singing Christmas Tree, which opens Friday at the Jubilee Auditorium.

For 39 consecutive years, the Central Pentecostal Tabernacle Church produced this televised Christmas tradition. However, when the church was demolished in 2005 and the congregation moved to North Pointe Church, the tree was put into storage.

John Cameron, president of Keller Construction, who had sung in, played for and directed the Singing Christmas Tree, pulled together a production committee in hopes of resurrecting the tree as an annual event. “He asked the North Pointe Church if we could use the structure and they gave us their blessing,” said Vanessa Hearns, assistant to Cameron.

Cameron also happened to be in the same Jasper Place High School graduating class as St. Albert resident Trent Worthington. He noted Worthington’s accelerating momentum as a singer/arranger/conductor; about 18 months ago he invited him on board as musical director.

“The opportunity to do a concert that has more substance to it than just pure entertainment was attractive to me. When you have the opportunity to do something with a deeper meaning for someone, or if it’s going to give someone a lift, it’s something I cherish,” Worthington said.

The 35-foot structure will support 110 choir singers and a 12-person children’s choir accompanied by 20 professional musicians. In addition, the two-hour performances feature 35 dancers, three actors and CTV anchor Carrie Doll will host.

While this cast of thousands is similar to the old staging, the original sacred format has changed to a slightly more secular approach. “We needed to make it more open to the public,” Hearns explained.

For instance, while Worthington salutes the Christmas spirit with a set of Joy to the World and O Holy Night, he’s also incorporated tunes such as Winter Wonderland and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

The drama pulling this year’s Christian story together takes place when three young people meet in a park close to a nativity scene. As they discuss life, the Nativity is transferred from the commercial to the actual, said Hearns.

Avalon School teacher Harvey Thiessen, a Sturgeon County resident, wrote the script and dialogue and played a critical role in how the multiple disciplines tie together. “He’s very talented and brings out both tears and laughter,” Worthington said.

Hearns had the last word, saying, “It’s going to be amazing. It’s a 39-year-old tradition. If we can bring it back, it will be very heart-warming.”

Preview

Singing Christmas Tree
Friday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 20 at 4 p.m.
Jubilee Auditorium
Tickets: $25-$55 Call 780-451-8000 or online at www.ticketmaster.ca

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About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.