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Hancock

A Broadway Christmas

Music on Norway Pond: ‘Hancock Family Christmas’ show at the Meetinghouse

For the past five years in Hancock, a relatively new Christmas tradition has been taking hold. Music on Norway Pond, in cooperation with the Hancock Church, has put on a mix of music, stories and performance that lasts only an hour, but has become the centerpiece of the Christmas season for many that participate.

Saturday at the Hancock Meetinghouse, the Norway Pond Festival Singers will be joining forces with the Norway Pond Junior Minstrels and the Village Ringers in the annual soiree. Jody Hill Simpson, artistic director for Music on Norway Pond — which encompasses both the Festival Singers and Junior Minstrels — said in a recent interview that she always tries to come up with one particular theme , in order to keep the show fresh from year to year.

“We try to come up with some kind of heart of the concert,” she explained. While most of the “Hancock Family Christmas” focuses on music this year, there’s a bit of a theatrical twist to some of the individual elements.

This year, she invited Sirkka Holm, 93, of Francestown to read “Star Mother’s Youngest Child,” a Christmas tale about a star that falls to Earth and spends a Christmas with an old woman who has isolated herself.

“It’s a perfect family story that’s going to make people cry,” said Simpson.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the Junior Minstrels, made up of children and teens, will also get to flex their acting skills. After Holm finishes her story, the Junior Minstrels will gather ‘round to act out a dinner scene in the Cratchit household from “A Christmas Carol” as a lead in to their first song, “The Lord’s Bright Blessing,” in the style of a big Broadway showstopper. The song is borrowed from the animated film “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” from 1962, a Broadway-style retelling of Dickens’ classic tale with the nearsighted Mr. Magoo cast as Scrooge. The Junior Minstrels will follow that with the more classic children’s choir choice of “Velvet Shoes,” an arrangement of a poem by Elinor Morton Wylie.

Each song is very different, said Simpson, but the children make the most of it. “In a way, for the children, their tone quality is something like a costume. Each song they sound a little different, depending upon what the song calls for. We talk about it often, when to use their ‘simple child’s voice’ or their ‘opera voice’ and so on,” said Simpson.

The Festival Singers, a group of about 30 women from around the region, will be singing well-known Christmas carols, such as “Angels We Have Heard on High,” but also dipping into pop culture, performing a song from the film “Home Alone” for their portion of the evening’s music. They will also be performing an arrangement of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” a hymn about the birth of Jesus Christ.

Though the show is myriad, it’s only an hour long, said Simpson, and the whole performance is meant to be complementary, said Simpson. “I like to sprawl one song into another. I try to make it like a show that goes on, instead of individual performances. It’s just an experience that hopefully finds the right tone for what I’m trying to do. It’s gotten very popular, probably because it’s very simple and moves right along. People love going because it’s not a long, drawn out thing.”

There is no charge for the concert, but donations will be accepted. The concert will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Hancock Meetinghouse.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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