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Holiday chorus puts a face on history in Christmas show

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Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:56 pm | Updated: 12:07 pm, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — When a network TV reporter interviews a natural disaster victim in Japan and it’s broadcast that evening on the national news, we take that capability pretty much for granted. The satellite technology has been around for decades, and we’ve become accustomed to watching those long-distance interviews in the comfort of our living rooms.

Imagine how it would be if that technology had been around for more than 2,000 years. What if the roving reporter could have interviewed the Three Wise Men while they were following a guiding star to find the birthplace of Jesus? That’s the premise of this year’s Christmas show by the Great Land Sounds and Fairbanks Sweet Adelines combined barbershop choruses.

The show, “Christmas: You Are There,” is patterned after the 1950s radio and TV show hosted by Walter Cronkite called “You Are There” in which reporters were not only sent long distances but back in time to interview famous people during significant events in history. Examples were Charles Lindbergh on the eve of his solo flight across the Atlantic and George Washington on the eve of the battle of Yorktown.

In the barbershop show, a KORD radio network reporter interviews Joseph looking for a place in Bethlehem where his wife can bear her baby; Santa Claus as he prepares for his Christmas Eve deliveries; some carolers preparing to sing in a small town in Wyoming and, finally, a U.S. soldier standing guard at an outpost in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan.

“Of course, we can only imagine what those people would have said during the interviews, but it was fun to imagine,” script writer Mike Ferguson said. “Besides, the story is only a framework in which to present our music of the season, both sacred and secular.”

For 15 years the combined choruses have performed a Christmas show the first weekend of December as a de facto beginning of the season for the Fairbanks community. Each chorus presents individual music practiced and perfected during a three- to four-month period, and they also present one or two combined numbers.

Quartets are the foundation of barbershop singing, and quartets from each chorus will perform numbers that move the story along. As in all previous shows, the Tanana Flats quartet will perform a comedic rendition of “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

Patti Gallagher, who directs both choruses, said that “People are going to love the music. I think it’s better than in any past show.” And, as in recent years, the North Pole High School Treble Choir will perform a couple of seasonal numbers.

If you go

What: “Christmas: You Are There”

When: 7:30 p.m. tonight and 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Pioneer Park Theatre for the Performing Arts

Cost: Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and military. For more information or reservations call 456-6094. Tickets can be purchased at the Prescription Center at 1919 Lathrop St., the Fairbanks Professional Pharmacy at 1001 Noble St. or the North Pole Prescription Laboratory at 167 Santa Claus Lane. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office one hour prior to each show.

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