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Christmas in July

Carmen Kamrath

Use our pocketful of productions to plan now for a great musical this Christmas.

It may be hot outside today, but before you know it, the north winds will blow cooler, hinting that Christmas is just around the corner. And though it may be difficult to think about carols and candy canes while the Beach Boys and popsicles join you poolside, planning your Christmas program early will eliminate last-minute decisions this fall.

To get you started we've unwrapped this season's new musicals -- and highlights of classics worthy of consideration. So turn up the air conditioning, put on your favorite Christmas sweater, and read on about musical productions that'll help your kids spread the glorious message of Jesus this Christmas.

Bows of Holly

Playbill

When a young girl receives a lot of attention for her Christmas compassion, her project hits a speed bump…which ultimately helps her remember the true meaning of Christmas.

This insightful Christmas musical tells about a girl named Holly who launches a toy and food drive for the needy. When she garners publicity for her efforts, Holly loses the focus of her original motivation for the project. And when kids steal everything she's collected, her "gifts" begin to have strings attached. As events unfold, Holly eventually remembers why she did the toy and food drive -- as a way to give gifts to others, with no strings attached. The musical parallels the gift God sent at Christmastime -- Jesus and the gift of forgiveness -- with no strings attached.

Production Notes

Length: 30 minutes

Publisher: Brentwood-Benson; www.brentwoodbenson.com

CD Preview Pak (CD and songbook): $10.00

Split-Track Accompaniment CD: $90.00

Encore-Worthy

This musical written by Dennis and Nan Allen has easy-to-learn music and encourages your musical group to reach out to your community this Christmas. Ancillary items such as musical posters and bulletin inserts are available for purchase. You can also order a CD Fun Pak for each child for $10.98 that contains a listening CD, a poster, and a toy.

Finding the Christmas Star

Playbill


A cranky middle school coach is reminded of the true meaning of Christmas thanks to a group of dramatic middle schoolers.

Every year the Douglas Fir Middle School has a Christmas Star talent competition. Judges are brought in for the competition and everything is on schedule -- until bitter Coach Chris tries to take over the auditorium during rehearsal. Through a series of events, Coach Chris is finally able to heal wounds of the past and discover who God made him to be.

Production Notes

Length: 40 minutes

Publisher: LifeWay; www.lifeway.com

CD Preview Pak (CD and songbook): $12.00

Split-Track Accompaniment CD: $90.00

Encore-Worthy

Jeff Slaughter's musical has fun music, drama, and a silly talent show feel. Directors can purchase the Dovetailor, which includes extras such as rehearsal plans, spiritual lessons, production notes, and kickoff party ideas. Kids can also download rehearsal tracks at the iTunes Store.

No Wonder!

Playbill


A performance rejection sparks a new audience for a children's choir at Christmas.

A pastor challenges his congregation to spread God's love to others in their community. The children's choir decides to sing at a local mall, but when the manager learns they'll sing about Jesus, he turns them away. Then an unexpected opportunity to sing at a homeless shelter awakens the choir to God's unselfish love and the realization that everyone has a wonderful gift to share -- Jesus.

Production Notes

Length: 47 minutes

Publisher: Integrity Music

CD Preview Pak (CD and songbook): $14.95

Split-Track Accompaniment CD: $95

Encore-Worthy

Annette Oden and Lee Black have teamed together to create a kids' musical with upbeat music that teaches a wonderful Christmas lesson. Kids will really enjoy learning the music, and songs such as "Stay Amazed" and "All to You" are especially appealing to preteens. Directors can purchase a Resource Kit containing extra helps for rehearsals and performances and an instructional DVD for song motions.

Cookin' Up Christmas

Playbill


This year's annual choir Christmas party crew is cooking up something new to spread the message of Christmas. Every year the church choir holds a Christmas party, but this year the director decides to add something new to a party that's always been all about the choir. Choir members such as Emerald Lasagna and Betty Rocker collect church members' favorite recipes to cook up so they can share Christmas treats with the community. As they cook together and wrap gifts for Christmas, everyone's reminded about the real recipe of Christmas -- God's love.

Production Notes

Length: 30 minutes

Publisher: Brentwood-Benson; www.brentwoodbenson.com

CD Preview Pak (CD and songbook): $10.00

Split-Track Accompaniment CD: $55.00

Encore-Worthy

This easy musical created by Nancy Gordon, Kellie Armstrong, and Luke Gambill is great for smaller groups or first-timers. The arrangement mixes original music with familiar Christmas favorites. Kids CD Fun Paks are available for $10.98 and include a music CD, toy, and poster.

The Mystery of the Manger

Playbill


Can an investigative reporter reveal the mystery of Christmas in time to meet her deadline?

Jane Blonde is on a fact-finding assignment to reveal the meaning of Christmas-but she only wants to report on solid evidence. As she observes the rehearsal for a Christmas Eve pageant, the kids reveal scriptural facts through the songs they sing. In the end, Jane Blonde can report with overwhelming proof that the baby born in a stable is the Savior of the world.

Production Notes

Length: 37 minutes

Publisher: Word; www.wordmusic.com

CD Preview Pak (CD and songbook): $8.00

Split-Track Accompaniment CD: $90.00

Encore-Worthy

This enjoyable musical created and arranged by Celeste and David Clydesdale includes the Steven Curtis Chapman song "Facts Are Facts" along with other tunes kids will love. There's also a DVD available with a full performance demonstration, accompaniment video, and instructional choreography. Directors' Resource Kits are available in either printed or digital format and contain lesson plans, activities, and preplanning material.

Carmen Kamrath is associate editor for Children's Ministry Magazine.



Director's Notes

A children's Christmas musical can be as simple or as elaborate as you make it. Each of these new musicals contains easy-to-learn music for kindergarten through sixth grade children and scripts that can be easily mastered by older elementary and preteen kids. Best of all, each musical clearly presents the wonderful news of Christmas -- the miracle of Jesus' birth and the joy and hope this event brings to a hurting world.

Remember to consider your program's venue as you plan the musical's set, keeping in mind that your entire choir will be on stage for the majority of the program. The musicals for 2007 don't require involved set designs or costuming -- a plus for busy directors! And each provides opportunities for individual acting parts and vocal solos while keeping the main choir involved and participating in every scene. Each musical provides directors with staging and costume ideas as well as production notes to help your program run smoothly on presentation night.

Finally, a word of advice from a musical veteran: Have fun! Kids will relax and feel comfortable on stage if they don't feel pressure to do everything perfectly. The most important goal of a Christmas musical is to present the joy and blessing of Jesus' birth, and this good news will beam through your kids if they're having fun and enjoying the show. If you have fun, everyone else will too!


The Classics

These classic musicals are all worthy of consideration as you plan ahead for your Christmas production.

• Candy Cane Lane-Take a stroll with Candy Cane Jane on a dream-filled journey to discover the best recipe for life -- Jesus. Word; 888-324-9673; www.wordmusic.com

• The Fumbly Bumbly Angels-This easy-to-use instant Christmas program follows the antics of four angels as they participate in the announcement of Jesus' birth. Group; (800) 447-1070; www.group.com

• It All Happened in the Country-When two city slickers get stranded in the country, their cousins help them discover the true meaning of Christmas, away from the city's hustle and bustle. Brentwood-Benson; (800) 846-7664; www.brentwoodbenson.com

• The Don't Be Afraid Brigade-A small band of angels goes on assignment to help earthlings trust in their heavenly Father. LifeWay; (800) 458-2772; www.lifeway.com

• Operation Baby King-Agent Double O-Heaven is on a mission to make sure everyone is able to hear and know the news of a baby King's birth. Group; (800) 447-1070; www.group.com

• Sendin' Out Love-A Christmas card factory premieres its new line of cards that focuses on the love of Jesus. Brentwood-Benson; (800) 846-7664; www.brentwoodbenson.com

• A Star Is Born-When Sophia the actress comes to play the role of Mary in a Christmas production, the director and cast try to help her understand the true star of Christmas is Jesus. Word; 888-324-9673; www.wordmusic.com

• The Good News Christmas Cruise-Passengers and crew aboard the SS Good News give a presentation of God's promises to send a Savior to the world. LifeWay; (800) 458-2772; www.lifeway.com

 

 

 



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