REVIEW: Choral show kept audience enthralled

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
December 18th, 2011

I define a great theater production by how well it transports me into another time and space.  If I leave the building spell-bound, shaking off the cobwebs from my virtual trip as I put on my jacket, then I am happy.  The 23rd annual Grand Forks Choral Society’s Christmas production, on Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Grand Forks Secondary School auditorium, did just that.  A Child’s Christmas in Wales was a fantastic production with a surprising and diverse collection of musical talent and songs to keep the audience completely absorbed.  The two-hour show began with a youthful and enthusiastic selection of songs by the children’s choir, The Sopraninos, conducted by Joan Thompson. The group started the event off with a wonderful energy including the song Child of the Universe and a Ukranian folk song, Troika Ride. They finished with a splash of Northern Lights in the form of reflective streamers and the song Walking in the Air alongside the Sopranos & Co and soloist Adrain Palek. Palek did an impressive job on this well-known melody.  Some other notable youth solos included a spine-tingling performance by Sopranos & Co member Cecilie Regenberg who sang My Grown-Up Christmas List by David Foster and Linda Thompson Jenner. I was blown away by her voice which actually brought tears to my eyes – a memorable execution of a beautiful song.  All the song selections were unexpected and featured many not so well-known and modern renditions for Christmas like the African Praise Noel done by the Sopranos & Co. in a capella. I especially liked the use of the drums in this selection.  The Grand Forks Choral Society’s songs were not diminished by the enthusiasm of their youthful counterparts. The adult group did a fantastic job and were especially memorable singing Run, Run, Shepherds by Anna Laura Page.  The second half of the program was a narration of A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Peri Best. Best was accompanied by members from all three choirs who acted out the well-known tale and interjected with songs and jovial humour.  Best did a great job of imitating a Welsh accent and kept the movement of the show lively and engaging. It was an effective use of the stage — difficult with so many people on it — and the aisles running alongside the audience. The play literally filled the theatre with sound, light and movement. The children were very comical and executed humour in the most appropriate ways. The period costumes, some of which were on loan from River’s Edge Theatre, were wonderfully detailed.  My favourite song was Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through the Night), a traditional Welsh ballad combined with Sleep, My Child done with all three choirs.

Overall a fantastic show. This was my first time experiencing the talents of the Grand Forks Choral Society. The impression they have left me with will keep me coming back for more.