'Spectacular Christmas' in store for audiences
Not only is he a “Christmas person,” Salem Township’s Billy Mason says, “I I think I am the Christmas person!”
“It’s my favorite time of the year and for me it begins around 12:01 a.m. on Nov 1st, just as soon as Halloween is over! For me it truly is the most wonderful time of the year,” explains Mason, a Broadway touring professional.
That’s why he is not only happy, but elated, to once again emcee and host the annual Latshaw Pops Spectacular Christmas Show 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at The Palace Theatre, Greensburg, and 2 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Lamp Theatre, Irwin.
“We have a lot of great music, talented entertainers, great singers, dancers and musicians ready to put you in the Christmas spirit!” Mason says.
“After traveling with the orchestra for seven years, it’s always nice to come home from New York City, not only to the Latshaw Pops Orchestra, but to my hometown of Greensburg,” he adds. “I love this music and sharing what makes Christmas special to us with new audiences everywhere.”
It promises to be another memorable experience, says producer Gary Latshaw.
“In addition to Billy Mason, there will be 22 musicians, a conductor, five singers and three dancers combining their talents to recall Christmas music and stories and enduring customs of Christmas,” he explains.
It proves to be a winning formula every year.
“Every show is met with a standing ovation,” Latshaw says. “Audiences seem to appreciate the remarkable talent, colorful costumes, energetic choreography and even a visit from Santa,” he says.
Music on which we can agree
“Christmas music is one of the few remaining institutions that everyone can agree on,” Latshaw says. “With pop music especially being as diversified as it is, it’s reassuring to think that during the holiday season everybody can enjoy a Christmas variety show. The Latshaw Pops Orchestra captures it in an authentic way with memories of endearing songs and carols, he says.
Delmont native Lindsay Fitzgerald, director of the Latshaw Pops Singers and Dancers, in her seventh season, says this year the company is introducing a special segment aimed at children.
“We wanted to create a world that would bring holiday magic to our audiences in a fun and interactive way,” she explains.
LikePorter, she gets into the Christmas spirit early.
“I love the entire holiday season, starting with Halloween, which my husband and I were married on. Once September hits, I am that person all ready to decorate and sing any kind of holiday music.” she says. “There is a certain magic in experiencing the music with an entire orchestra behind you, which makes it feel even more special.”
Hope and love
This is always a busy and frantic time of year, the Monroeville resident acknowledges, “but it is also filled with so much hope and love.”
Frank Czuri, a member of the Skyliners, Igniters and WeeJams, says he really enjoys taking part in these shows.
“Generally I’m not known for Christmas music, and that’s why this is so much fun,” he explains.
He will offer solos, including Otis Redding’s version of Charles Brown’s “Merry Christmas Baby,” and also ensemble harmony vocals.
“The singers, dancers and musicians are really top talents and I’m proud to share the stage with them. Gary Latshaw really puts on a first class variety Christmas show, the kind I grew up with on TV,” Czuri says.
His fellow Skyliner, Donna Groom, plans some old favorites such as the Carpenters’ version of “Merry Christmas Darling,” Darlene Love’s “Baby Please Come Home” and, she says, “a great bossa nova version of ‘Blue Christmas.’ ”
Groom also embraces the holiday with enthusiasm. It really is the most magical time of the year, she says. “The music, singers and dancers make this show a holiday spectacular to start the season.”
Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.