Given my deep love of both classics and cheese, it should be no surprise that I jumped at the opportunity to attend the Holiday Sing-Along at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on December 17, 2016. I’d been wanting to go to one of their Christmas shows for years, but just hadn’t ever been able to fit it into my schedule. And while my idea of the ultimate live band is Mötley Crüe, I found myself happily singing along to Christmas standards with families in matching Santa hats.
The event started out as any good holiday party should — with steaming hot chocolate (free from the Corner Bakery Cafe), good cheer, and lots of ugly sweaters. I fit right in with my own holiday outfit: knee-high Christmas socks, lots of velvet, and the ugliest of ugly sweaters — a gem straight from the 80s, purchased un-ironically at the time, that could easily have held two of me and that clearly once sported a massive pair of shoulder pads. All I really needed to complete the look was a Santa hat or one of those antler headbands. Maybe next year.
Entering the hall, the audience was greeted by a holiday explosion. The cheerily decorated stage was full of poinsettias, stockings, tinsel garland, nutcracker, and the requisite tree. To cap it off, they had used red and green to light the part of the organ best described as the “French Fries”, which looked like part of a gigantic and very festive Happy Meal.
Prior to the start of the show, the pianist played solo on stage & set the mood with songs like “Jingle Bell Rock.” Soon, he was joined by the remaining members of a jazz trio as well as an organist and the real stars of the show — the Angeles Chorale and their conductor, John Sutton. Throughout the performance, he carried on a silly banter with the event’s host, Melissa Peterman. I’d never seen her shows (“Reba,” “Baby Daddy”) before, but her goofy Lucille Ball-esque slapstick kept the audience entertained before starting to wear a bit thin towards the end. Though the rest of the audience seemed to love her act, I didn’t particularly care for some of the ongoing jokes about how clueless/dumb she was. She wore a series of cute/fun/silly costumes, ranging from a giant gingerbread man to a human menorah, in keeping with the family-friendly tone of the event.
The chorale joined in on the slapstick action, with props and a Mad-Libs style version of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” for which the words had been provided by a small herd of children pulled from the audience.
While I should never be allowed to sing in public, my voice was drowned out by the sea of thousands of other enthusiastic audience members. I’m not sure what key they were in, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t in it. Everyone held their lyric sheets and belted out classics from “Joy to the World” to “The Dreidel Song,” for which the French Fry lights temporarily changed to blue.
The highlight of the event was a rousing rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The conductor and host assigned each section a line, which they all then sang at top volume. As is always the way of such things, the cheapest sections showed the most spirit. One of the high balconies demonstrated so much enthusiasm for “ten lords a-leaping,” complete with wild leaping arm gestures, that the conductor had to point out that “it’s a metaphor — it’s not intended to be literal.” Fortunately, all the lords stayed put in the balcony.
And with a quick visit from Santa, it was over in a flash. I’d have happily stayed another hour, but even with all the host segments, you can only stretch out a bunch of relatively-secular holiday songs for so long. Ultimately, it was a blast. I haven’t had that much fun at a show in ages — and Santa didn’t even need pyrotechnics to make this concert rock.
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