By Sean Edward Hall
“Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer, fun for all that children call, their favorite time of the year. Snowflakes in the air, carols everywhere, olden times and ancient rhymes, of love and dreams to share. Sleigh bells in the air, beauty everywhere, yuletide by the fireside, and joyful memories there …” by Vince Guaraldi/Lee Mendelson
One of my favorite Christmas TV memories is watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the above lyrics from the song used in the special is still one of my all-time favorite Christmas tunes. I have always found that it’s simple melody and poetry that capture Christmas in a pure and beautiful way. Jacksonville is rich with opportunities to lift your Christmas spirit this season and to help remind you that no matter what your faith is or reason that the holidays are special for you … there are places to go and things to see or hear to get you into the right frame of mind in the middle of the cold unpleasant weather during this time of year. There is no reason to be “Bah, humbug-ing” like a curmudgeonly Scrooge.
Speaking of “Scrooge,” Playhouse On The Square is producing the Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” for one weekend only, using an inspiring take on a familiar tale by casting all the roles with children and young actors! Laurie McCoy and Kim Shafer direct this timeless tale that is sure to thrill the entire family while sharing the spirit of Christmas past, present and future. Performances are December 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. and December 6 at 2 p.m. Next, on December 12 at 7:30 p.m., Nathan Carls will bring his “croon” to Playhouse with his cabaret tribute to Sinatra for one night only! Don’t miss our area’s smoothest voice while he evokes all the warm memories of “’Ole Blue Eyes!” Closing out the holiday season, Playhouse once again brings back their “Christmas Favorites” by showcasing some of their favorite singers, musicians, poetry and readings on December 19 at 7:30 p.m. and December 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are always available for purchase at Our Town Books, The Soap Co. Coffee House or by making reservations by calling 217-491-3977.
Jacksonville Theatre Guild is celebrating the season with a three-part children’s Christmas show. They are producing three small shows into one performance. One of the small shows includes an original work by prolific local playwright, Ken Bradbury, entitled “The Night Before … Something.” The performances are December 18 at 7 p.m., and December 19-20 at 4 p.m., each at Grace United Methodist Church. The show is directed by guild favorite, Barb Gatlin, and also features musical selections performed by Camri Anderson and Isaiah Christian. Tickets can be purchased online by going to their website at http://jaxtg.weebly.com or by calling 217-245-1402.
Finally, what better way could there be to celebrate the holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and Boxing Day), than with some music from the season? One of my favorites to either attend or in which to be a participant is the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, plus the Jacksonville High School Concert Choir. This is a long-time family standard in the Jacksonville community and, in my humble opinion, is what truly sets the holiday season into gear. This audience favorite never disappoints and this year will bring some gorgeous Bach into the mix of the usual Christmas carols and instrumental favorites. This year’s concert is on December 5 at 3 p.m. and is once again performing in the beautifully decorated Rammelkamp Chapel on the Illinois College campus. Tickets are $15 and as always, children and students are admitted free. Bring your entire family to hear the gorgeous music performed majestically with a full orchestra and chorale, buy some delicious treats from the society bake sale, and maybe even get a chance to visit with surprise guest before he makes his annual trek!
“Christmas time is here, we’ll be drawing near … Oh, that we could always see, such spirit through the year!”