‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ premieres at Arvada Center

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The Arvada Center has entered a new era.

The current production, "I'll Be Home for Christmas," is an original musical that features music and lyrics by David Nehls, who has been the Arvada Center's music director for many, many years. The book (story/dialogue) was written by Kenn McLaughlin. Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck created the inventive choreography. This is the first time a production has been conceived and produced by the talented personnel at the Arvada Center. This is a very ambitious undertaking ... and it paid off. Kudos to Arvada Center Artistic Producer (Musicals) Rod A. Lansberry for supporting this venture.

The story takes us back to 1969, and the Bright family is preparing for their annual Christmas show, a highly anticipated national television event. When the show began, I thought, "This is going to be completely formulaic. It will be easy to predict and the tunes will sound like every other holiday song." I am delighted to say I was completely wrong. As the story unfolded, it turned out to be fresh and unexpected. I couldn't predict what would happen next. And the music was unexpectedly refreshing and creative.

The parents Noah Racey (dad/Dana) and Megan Van De Hey (mom/Louise), along with Kim McClay (daughter/Maggie), are greatly missing their son/brother Jake Mendes (Simon). Now here's where I began to think, "I've seen this before ... Simon arrives to surprise the family for Christmas." But from then on, the story takes unexpected twists and turns and I found myself completely engrossed in a brand new experience.

The talented cast is directed by Gavin Mayer (whom I first met when he was the drama coach at Pomona High School). The clever set by Brian Mallgrave created the tone of a live radio broadcast. The costumes by Samantha R. De La Fuente-Menche were quintessential 1969.

This is must-see theater. "I'll Be Home for Christmas," runs through Dec. 23. The show is wonderful for the whole family. For tickets and info, call 720-898-7200 or visit www.arvadacenter.org.

Apex show was charmer

"A Disney Christmas" was presented last week by the Apex Therapeutic Recreation Department

It's too late for you to enjoy this delightful holiday tradition this year. It took place at the Apex Community Center on Dec. 1, but it's an annual event so watch for it next year.

This inspiring adventure is directed and choreographed by Chris Duncan, a personal trainer and fitness instructor at the Apex Rec Center. Chris volunteers her time from September to December to give these special people an opportunity to perform for their families and friends. While the participants have a wide range of abilities, the things that remain constant are their joy, enthusiasm and excitement at being on stage and in costume.

Watching the pure delight on their faces as they executed their routines and sang along to the recorded tracks was something I'll remember for a very long time. Thanks, Chris, for the love and dedication you give to this wonderful concept.

Columnist Harriet Hunter Ford may be reached at hhunterford@gmail.com.

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