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The sounds of Christmas

Enjoy a holiday concert in a city near you 

Do you hear what I hear? Holiday productions catering to a variety of musical tastes are being staged around Kentucky, so whether you prefer fun, feel-good songs with a danceable beat or sacred music in a sacred space, it’s easy to find a performance that sparks that Christmas spirit. 

Variety! Christmas Extravaganza, a Branson-style musical revue at Badgett Playhouse in Grand Rivers, is like a bulging Christmas stocking; it’s loaded with an assortment of goodies. Some numbers are as familiar and comforting as your favorite childhood candy, while others are delightful surprises, like finding an exotic fruit from a foreign land in the toe of that stocking. 

Dana Poulson performs in Variety! Christmas Extravaganza at Badgett Playhouse in Grand Rivers. Photo: Badgett Playhouse

The family-friendly show is packed with professional vocal talent driven by an eight-piece orchestra. An audience favorite is Dig that Crazy Santa Claus, a kick-up-your-heels big band number. Chuck Berry fans sway to the beat of Run Rudolph Run, the rollicking Christmas song recorded by the late rock legend in 1958. 

For Bill and Sara Minihan, the husband-and-wife team that produces the dazzling holiday spectacle, the opportunity to stage that first show back in 2005 felt like nothing short of a Christmas miracle. 

“The city wanted a theater but didn’t have anybody to run it; we wanted a theater but didn’t have one to run,” Bill says. 

The Minihans were promptly hired. They got busy putting together a breathtaking premiere holiday performance and haven’t looked back.

“What touches us the most is we have people that come back year after year,” Bill says. “We have become part of their Christmas tradition.”

A key component of that tradition is the grand finale, a poignant rendition of Oh, Holy Night.

“It’s a fun, high-energy show, but we keep the message of Christ in Christmas,” Bill says. “That’s important to our audience. 

Choir members from more than 20 churches fill the Living Christmas Tree during performances in Taylorsville. Photo: The Spencer Magnet

Living Christmas Tree

That message is being broadcast loud and clear at the First Baptist Church in Taylorsville through the 33rd annual Living Christmas Tree choral concert. A specially constructed floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree adorned with thousands of ever-changing colored lights serves as a tiered stage for choir members from more than 20 regional churches. Their shimmering vocals backed by a high school orchestra and a bell choir radiate throughout the church like the warmth from an inviting holiday fire. 

 “Once Upon a Silent Night” is the theme this year, a tribute to the bicentennial of the Christmas classic composed by Austrian Franz Gruber. 

Silent Night was originally sung in German, but over the years, it has been translated into dozens of languages, and now it’s one of the world’s most recognized Christmas carols. 

 

CAROL ON

Sing along to your favorite holiday tunes across the state.

Variety! Christmas Extravaganza 

Dec. 1-28, Fridays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Dec. 4, 5 and 13 at 2 p.m. The Badgett Playhouse, 1838 JH O’Bryan Ave., Grand Rivers, (888) 362-4223, www.badgettplayhouse.com

Living Christmas Tree

Dec. 1-2, 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. each night. First Baptist Church, 115 W. Main St., Taylorsville, (502) 477-8197, www.taylorsvillefbc.com

A Christmas Story

Dec. 1-2, show times vary. The Kentucky Center, 501 W. Main St., Louisville, www.kentuckycenter.org

BJO’s Kentucky Opry Christmas

Dec. 1-15, show times vary. Mountain Arts Center, 50 Hal Rogers Dr., Prestonsburg, (606) 886-2623, www.macarts.com/events

Pam Tillis Christmas

Dec. 1, 7 p.m., Renfro Valley Entertainment Center, 2380 Richmond St., Mt. Vernon, (800) 765-7464, www.renfrovalley.com

Paducah Symphony Orchestra Christmas Celebration

Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. The Carson Center, 100 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, (270) 444-0065,
www.paducahsymphony.org 

Hope Starts at Home Christmas Concert

Dec. 11, 7 p.m., United Methodist Temple, 395 S. Main St., Russellville

Christmas with Exile

Dec. 13, 7 p.m., Center for Rural Development, 2292 S. Hwy 27, Somerset, (606) 677-6000,
www.centertech.com 

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage

Dec. 19, 7 p.m., RiverPark Center, 101 Daviess St., Owensboro, (270) 687-2770, www.riverparkcenter.org, click on “Upcoming Events”

A Christmas Evening with Jason Crabb

Dec. 19, 6-10 p.m., Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum, 2590 Richmond St., Mt. Vernon, www.eventbrite.com, search “Christmas with Jason Crabb”

 

CENTER STAGE

Need more Christmas cheer? Check out these events.

Christmas in the Park

Dec. 1-Jan. 1. This free drive-through Christmas light extravaganza is in Freeman Lake Park. 212 Freeman Lake Park Road, Elizabethtown,
(270) 769-3916

Children’s Tea Time with Mrs. Claus

Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22. Noon-5 p.m. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, 3501 Lexington Road, Harrodsburg, (800) 734-5611, www.shakervillageky.org

A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play

Dec. 1, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Dec. 2, 2 p.m. A community theater performance at Palace Theatre, 119 N. Main St., Greenville, (270) 338-7165, www.mctiky.org

Christmas Tour of Homes

Dec. 8, 1-8 p.m. Tour festive privately-owned homes in Bardstown and the surrounding area. Includes a candlelight tour of My Old Kentucky Home house museum. Tickets available at the Bardstown Visitor Center, 1 Court Square, Bardstown, (502) 348-4877, www.visitbardstown.com

Mrs. Julia Beckham’s Christmas Tea at Wickland

Dec. 8, noon, Dec. 9, 4 p.m. Enjoy a Victorian tea with Julia Wickliffe Beckham, the only woman in the world to be the mother, sister and daughter of a U.S. governor. She shares memories of her life at Wickland at the turn of the 20th century.  550 Bloomfield Road, U.S. 62 E, Bardstown, (502) 507-0808, www.historicwickland.com

Princess Tea Party with Elsa 

Dec. 8, 11:30 a.m. A Frozen-themed children’s tea at Expressions Tea and Gifts, 2835 S. Hwy. 27, Somerset, (606) 677-4068, ext. 1119. For reservations, email glstephens@bluegrass.org.  A Christmas Tea party, an annual event for grown-up palates, is Dec. 13 at 5:30 p.m. 

Dickens of a Christmas Small Business Saturday

Dec. 15. The Smedley Artisan Market in the LowerTown Arts District showcases the talent of local artists and artisans. Smedley Yeiser, 533 Madison St., Paducah, (270) 709-3119, www.smedleyyeiser.com

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