Weekend packed with holiday cheer

By Anne E. O’Keefe
Rockford Area Arts Council

It’s hard to believe it is the 20th year for J.R. Sullivan’s Hometown Holiday (jrsullivanhometownholiday.com). It’s a fresh, new show with an incredible cast including: Linda Abronski, E. Faye Butler, Jeff Christian, Rhett Guter, Megon McDonough, Randy Sabien, Marcella Rose Sciotto, Daniel Patrick Sullivan, Stephen F. Vrtol and Shawn Wallace. Because Sullivan is so warmly regarded, he has an equally impressive crew to pull off this amazing show: Gerrie Gustafson, Cindy Jo Lantz, Laurie Oliver, Holland Zander, Bruce Hammond, Dave Heddon, Jan Bacino, Lani Howard Richardson and Claudette Pirello. I volunteered to help create the magical wonderland one year and have a new appreciation for the hard work and long hours that go into this production to bring an evening of wonderment to the audience. Supporting sponsors GrahamSpencer and WNIU/WNIJ with assistance of the Rockford Area Arts Council are also appreciated.

Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Sullivan Theater of the Nordlof Center. Tickets, at $25 each, are on sale now at the BMO Harris Bank Center and Coronado Performing Arts Center Box Offices, at ticketmaster.com, or by calling 815-968-0595 (service fees will apply). Tickets with no service charges are available at the Rockford Area Arts Council and Kortman’s.

Sunday, the Rockford Wind Ensemble will be doing their holiday show, also at the Nordlof earlier in the afternoon. RWE’s performance is at 1:30 p.m. There is no reserved seating for Rockford Wind Ensemble concerts but as you know all of the seats at the Nordlof Center are great seats. Tickets can be purchased at the theater box office immediately prior to the concert, but patrons are encouraged to reserve tickets by calling Rockford Wind Ensemble at 815-227-8550. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, $10 for adults. For more information or to discuss group pricing call 815-227-8550 or email rockfordwinds@gmail.com.

The Rock Valley Children’s Choir presents, Brightest and Best, A Cumberland Christmas on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 3300 Rural Street. This 14th annual Holidays and Holy Days concert is built around the Christmas music of the Appalachian Mountains. Director Leah Baskin states, “We’re particularly proud to have Randy Sabien come all the way from Minnesota and join us in concert this year. With 11 solo albums and over 30 guest album appearances, this Prairie Home Companion regular is a special treat for the choirs to work with. His guitar, violin, voice, musicianship and good humor are just right for combining with young singers.”

If you wish to experience an old-fashioned Christmas you may curl up in front of your fireplace with your favorite beverage and tune in Sunday night at 6 p.m. to WNIJ 89.5 for A Christmas Carol, the radio play presented by Artists’ Ensemble (artistsensemble.org).

Please remember giving the gift of the arts this holiday season builds life long memories. Visit artsforeveryone.com for a list of organizations who will help your holiday season be bright.

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