It’s less than a month away to Christmas and already the signals are there – Christmas music, Christmas trees, chocolates and shortbread. There’s no use fighting it. Just dig in and enjoy it.
That’s what Breakfast Television’s Live Eye host Bridget Ryan is doing. As an intrepid, bubbly broadcaster, she is always promoting the angels in the area.
However, every year Ryan also puts her performing arts background on stage to support a great cause and this year she’s picked the Edmonton Christmas Bureau.
The former St. Albert Children’s Theatre (SACT) member is hosting Bridget Ryan’s Big Ol’ Christmas Cabaret and Auction on Dec. 3 at the ATB Financial Arts Barn.
“I haven’t done it since 2009, but I have done various other things. I’m excited about bringing back the show. I’m the biggest Christmas freak I know. So I dusted off a few songs and added a few new elements,” says Ryan.
A champagne reception and silent auction of visual artist Jason Carter’s paintings and sculptures launch the evening. Carter is Ryan’s creative partner. Together they have written and illustrated a children’s series and opened the Ryan-Carter Gallery in Canmore.
An acknowledged visual artist, Carter’s soapstone carvings and paintings of wildlife were on display at Alberta House during the 2010 Winter Olympics and are currently shown at Bearclaw Gallery.
He loves the folk medium and dubs his bold style as contemporary Alberta pop art.
“Jason is really coming into his own. His carvings of rabbits have really taken off. He’s very passionate and appreciative of the work the Christmas Bureau does and this is a way he can give back.”
Surprisingly, although the concert is a celebration of Christmas, Ryan has programmed few seasonal tunes.
“Nobody wants to hear me sing all the Christmas songs ever written. So I’m going to do two Christmas mashups. I’m going to take every Christmas song I know and sing it in five minutes. And them – boom. We’ve addressed it and can move on to new elements.”
The Edmonton based singer views Christmas as a celebration of family and will present four decades of cabaret and musical theatre music.
Her parents, founding SACT artistic director Maralyn Ryan and the late Tim Ryan, former chair of MacEwan University’s musical theatre program, were profound influences on her musical choices.
“Mom and Dad loved clever, witty, intelligent music,” says Ryan. She still remembers pining for ABBA and the Gibbs at Christmas, and instead receiving records of the great Broadway composers.
“In 1986 when I finally got K-Tel hits and an ABBA album, my Christmas got significantly better. That music defined a time in my life.”
And, in a sense, a revisit of pleasant old memories in a rousing cabaret setting is what this concert is about.
In this evening of song and stories, keyboardist Jen McMillan and her band will accompany. As special guests, Ryan is showcasing six members from Kokopelli Choir and the jelly-bellied guy in a red suit also makes a special appearance.
“It’s going to be a 90-minute blast and it will fill you with joy.”
Bridget Ryan’s Big Ol’ Christmas Cabaret and Auction
Rabbit in the Yard Productions
Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m.
ATB Financial Arts Barn
10330 – 84 Ave.
Tickets: $27. Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at tixonthesquare.ca