Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Shameless Plug

Jingle celebrates 10th
Perennial favorite Christmas show set for weekend

By IVY MOORE Item Features Editor

‘If you’re not in the Christmas spirit when you get here, you will be before you leave.” That’s the perennial promise of Andrea Freed-Levenson, director of the Sumter Civic Dance Company, who’s also directing Jingle with the Arts for the 10th consecutive Christmas season. The program will be presented Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17 and 18, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m. at Patriot Hall.

“I only wanted to do it that one year,” Freed-Levenson said, “but I have more fun doing this than anything else all year, and people keep asking about it. Sometimes when people come in to get a ticket, I ask them if they’ve ever seen it. A lot of them say they’ve seen it every year. Jingle is fun to do because people like it so much.”

Jingle with the Arts, sponsored by the Sumter Civic Dance Company, brings together the company, the Sumter High School Show Choir directed by Eric Wilkinson and more than 100 local children who auditioned for special parts in a Rockettes-style entertainment that combines song, dance and elements of theater.

While she’s bringing back many of the favorites, like the soldiers and reindeer, Freed-Levenson has added some new elements, with scenery from professional designers in Las Vegas and Chicago.

“The first scene, our ‘gifts scene’, will feature special clothing from the Gap and Hip Hop clothes,” she said. “The scene is about things you can get as Christmas gifts. We’ll also have some swing dancing and a new Riverdance number. People always want to see that.

“David Shoemaker designed our opening set,” Freed-Levenson said. “He’s our technical director — he’s everything!”

Freed-Levenson choreographed the entire show, “except for the Hip Hop piece. Erin Levenson did that one,” she said.

The Nativity scene will be danced to the song “You Pick Me Up,” sung by Josh Groban, Freed-Levenson said. “It’s a beautiful piece.”

Soloist Garry Ball from the SHS Show Choir, will sing “Word of God, Speak” and the dance solo choreographed to accompany his song will be performed on alternating nights by Andrea Barras and Erin Levenson.

Wilkinson, director of choirs at Sumter High School, will also be the accompanist for the Show Choir. Fran Glaze is the 26-member group’s choreographer.

“We’ve been collaborating with the Sumter Civic (Dance Company) since the beginning of Jingle 10 years ago,” Wilkinson said. “We perform both with the dancers and on our own. It’s truly a total collaboration, especially in the final scene.”

Before that, there’s a special piece “that highlights one of the ladies who often gets overlooked during the season,” Wilkinson said, “so watch for Mrs. Claus. It’s a real treat.”

He explained that the final scene, the Nativity, “sets the tone for the holiday.”

Jingle with the Arts will be presented at Patriot Hall on Haynsworth Street on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17 and 18, at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. They are available at Freed School of Performing Arts, SEACO Music and from members of the Sumter Civic Dance Company and the Sumter High School Show Choir. For more information, call 803-773-2847.


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