Busy week of Capitol Center shows

  • Rocking Horse Studio will return to the Capitol Center with its Christmas show, this year on the main stage. —Courtesy

  • Capital Jazz Orchestra will bring its Holiday Pops to the Capitol Center featuring vocalists CJ Poole and Laura Daigle. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Over the next four days, the Capitol Center for the Arts will be home to three annual holiday shows.

The festivities begin tonight with a sold-out performance of the Buzz Ball and continues over the weekend with Rocking Horse Studio and the Capital Jazz Orchestra’s concerts.

Such a busy week requires lots of planning and communication, said Steve Martin, production director at the Capitol Center for the Arts. He and two other production managers work with stage managers, hired crews and the managers and crews of performers to get each show in and out in a day.

“We just make sure we communicate with each other,” Martin said.

Typically working in four-hour blocks, crews set-up equipment, test systems and rehearse, break for dinner, perform the show, and tear-down everything – sometimes going to 2 or 3 a.m., sometimes working through the night to set up specialized parts of an incoming show.

“It’s really just a constant flow,” Martin said.

Buzz Christmas Ball

Returning for the seventh year, the Buzz Christmas Ball, promises a night your won’t forget. It’s hosted by the Greg and the Morning Buzz radio team and features a slate of musicians, comedians and performers.

Jim Roach, who’s producing the show (and other Christmas shows for the last 16 years), did not want to give away too many of the surprises. But, he said comedians Jimmy Dunn and Graig Murphy will make appearances. You’ll also be able to listen to Mike Girade from The Fools, Jon Butcher, Sal Baglio and MB Padfield.

Andres Moe, a Swedish musician, will be there, too.

“No one will know him, but he’s really amazing,” Roach said.

Tickets are $30 to $40, but have already sold out, so you’re out of luck unless there are no-shows. The show begins at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Christmas with Rocking Horse Studio

After playing sold-out shows for the last three years at the Cap Center’s Spotlight Cafe, Rocking Horse Studio’s Christmas show will move upstairs to the main stage.

“While we loved the intimacy of the Spotlight Cafe and the limited supply of tickets that caused some excitement around purchasing tickets in advance, we are looking forward to performing on the main stage this year,” said Brian Coombes, producer at Rocking Horse Studio. “It’s really a testament of the community’s support for our show.”

With more space in the audience comes more room on the stage. Coombes said the extra space allows for a larger house band plus some dancing and acting in this year’s show.

The show features musicians with whom the studio has worked with over the years. This year’s show welcomes back regular performers along with newcomers.

“It’s always wonderful to welcome Dusty Gray, Brooks Young, Ryan Williamson, Justin Cohn, and Pat & the Hats back to the show,” Coombes said. “I’m excited for the audience to see Andriana Gnap perform this year. We’ve spent the better part of 2017 working in the studio on her beautiful collection of Ukrainian folk songs. She has an amazing voice and is a wonderful performer, so it will be fun to watch her sing a bit of traditional Ukrainian Christmas music.”

Other newcomers include Catherine White, an alt/pop/rock singer-songwriter; Sofia Lee Davis, a country/rock/pop singer-songwriter; and Concord’s Sensitive Men, a folk/pop trio that features two ukuleles and an acoustic guitar.

In addition to renditions of favorite Christmas songs, the musicians will present some original works.

“Hank Osborne will be singing a beautiful song he wrote called ‘Here’s to Christmas.’ Steve Blunt will be performing two kid-friendly songs: ‘Johnny Wants a Guitar for Christmas’ and ‘Get Your Jingle On,’ ” Coombes said. “Bradley Parker has adapted his song ‘Waltz Across New Hampshire’ with new Christmas lyrics. And my good friend Frank Maglio has written a sweet and nostalgic song called ‘Home for Christmas.’ ”

The show begins Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $24.50 for general admission seats.

Capital Jazz OrchestraHoliday Pops

Wrapping up the weekend will be the Capital Jazz Orchestra’s 12th annual Holiday Pops.

The show features professional musicians from eight states, who will arrive in Concord on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. to look over the musical arrangements for the first time.

Some of the arrangements, composed by the orchestra’s pianist Jerry Ascione, are still being written, said the orchestra’s musical director, Clayton “Skip” Poole.

The show will premier two new arrangements: “White Christmas,” which will feature soloist CJ Poole, and “Sing We at Christmas,” a compilation of four to five carols that will be presented as a sing-along with the audience and the Nashua Catholic Regional Junior High School Choir.

To have a school chorus join the Capital Jazz Orchestra is a new feature of the Holiday Pops.

“I always want to give young people a chance to perform … with a professional orchestra,” Poole said.

The choir of sixth- through eighth-grade students will also sing an a capella version of “Carol of the Bells.”

Featured guest vocals are CJ Poole and Laura Daigle who will perform duets for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Merry Little Christmas.”

Other songs on the program include “Jingle Bells”; “Snowfall,” featuring Ascione; “March of the Toys”; “Let it Snow”; and an eight-minute big band arrangement of the “Nutcracker Suite,” which will feature harp soloist Kathleen Lyon-Pingree, who is the principal harpist for the Boston Ballet.

Laura Knoy will reprise her reading of the “Night Before Christmas.”

The Holiday Pops will be Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $27.50 to $47.50.

Lobby doors and the box office typically open an hour before show time with the theater doors opening a half hour before.

To purchase tickets or for more information on any of the shows, visit ccanh.com or call 225-1111.