The Living Christmas Tree- Jan. 2010

If you thought untangling the Christmas lights from last year was difficult you might want to drop by the Moncton Wesleyan Church in the next week as volunteers sort out 35,000 mini Christmas lights with five miles of wiring. Nerves may be frayed at times but there will be more laughter than tension as the Church members prepare for the annual Living Christmas Tree show.

The ‘tree’ itself has changed over 36 years of performances, from a wooden structure that held 30 to 40 people in it, to a professionally designed steel structure with nine semi circular tiers that holds rows and rows of choir singers. This year the light circuits have increased from sixty to 560 and the colors increased from four to six.

Director Don Ingersoll says the Moncton Wesleyan Church’s Christmas show started out like any Christian celebration. ”Essentially we are doing the same thing as all the other Churches are doing, which is to celebrate the birth of Christ, and to draw attention to the real meaning of Christmas and remind people what it is all about. And then it just got bigger and bigger and took on a life of its own”.

“In a big Church like ours”, says Ingersoll, “the choir is a place where people can spend some time with each other”. This being said, the Moncton Wesleyan choir practices must be a lively event as the choir has ‘one hundred voices”. Still, weekly choir practices give the parishioners time to get to know each other.

The bonding increases during the many hours of rehearsals for the Christmas show. The Living Christmas Tree is a big part of the Church community. “There are in excess of two hundred people involved in the production” says Pastor Ingersoll, “and people are spending every waking hour at the Church. During that time it is amazing how many friendships develop, people get to know each other on a level that they don’t get to, the rest of the year”.

According to Will Myers, a member of the choir since 1989, the choir practices are lots of fun with jokes and light heckling between the bass singers and the tenors. Over the years of his participation, he has seen children involved in the show develop from the cradle to the choir. “The child might start out as Baby Jesus and eventually become a member of the Living Christmas Tree”.

This year Myers has a solo, but in other years, he has acted in the sketches as well. “You do what they need you to do; you step up to the plate and do it. We work hard as a group and we find that everyone has a hidden talent ready to be discovered”.

Pastor Ingersoll directed the Living Christmas Tree back in the eighties and has only returned two years ago from Saint John after a 23-year absence, to take up the role of Associate Pastor at the Moncton Wesleyan Church. Among Ingersoll’s responsibilities is directing the Christmas show, and it is a pleasure for him.

Some Church members return every year to participate even though they have moved far away. “We have a lighting tech, Richard Dunn, who actually has been employed at Disney. He is a man who grew up as teenager in our Church, and now works out of Atlanta as a private lighting contractor, and he does major concerts and trade shows all across the States, and he comes back every year to direct our lighting”.

Although the cast and crew are members of the Church, they do get special guests. This year the featured artist is Geoff Moore, an international singer from Nashville Tennessee, who also represents a group called Compassion Canada. The Wesleyan Church is collaborating with Compassion Canada to draw attention to the needs of children all over the world. The other featured performance is a family group from Prince Edwards Island called The Skys, a fiddle and step dance group.

 “The show is about two hours long”, says Ingersoll, “and in the first half it is kind of like a variety show, there are Broadway style musical selections with costumes, and there are comedic sketches. In the second half of the program, we have a live orchestra and the choir in the tree, and it would be the more traditional Christmas music concert”.

According to Myers, the first half of the show “Is light, humorous, and mostly based on the Santa Claus Christmas lore, and the second half is more the Christian aspect of Christmas and that is where the real message of Christmas comes through”.

Ingersoll believes that the audience for the Living Christmas Tree may be more diverse than for other Church services because some people are there more for the “fun, lights, and music” than the Christian message. As director, Ingersoll feels it is important to be inclusive; he is happy to draw in a wide selection of audience members. “We want to cut across age barriers, so that children enjoy it, as well as those who enjoy the choir and live orchestra”.

Last year the Church hired an on-line company called Ticket Window to handle the tickets. “The printed numbered tickets were cumbersome, and this on-line company has freed up many volunteers, as well as allowed ticket buyers the comfort of going on-line to bring up a schematic of the seats, and pick out a seat that they want. Of course, you can still buy tickets at the Church or by calling 383-TREE”.

The popularity of the show makes all the members of the Church proud and brings them together as a group. “We like to think that the show will cheer those who may be down,” says Myers, “and spread the Christian message of love and forgiveness”. The work that goes into the Living Christmas Tree gives Church members a feeling of accomplishment and collective joy.

Show Dates and Ticket Information:

Seven show dates:

Wednesday December 2, 2009 at 7:30pm

Thursday December 3, 2009 at 7:30pm

Friday December 4, 2009 at 7:30pm

Saturday December 5, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Saturday December 5, 2009 at 7:30pm

Sunday December 6, 2009 at 3:00pm

Sunday December 6, 2009 at 7:30pm

Wednesday December 2 – to Sunday December 6th

Shows nightly at 7:30 pm

Matinees:

Saturday December 5 and Sunday December 6th at 3 pm.

Buy tickets at the Moncton Wesleyan Church

Online at monctonwesleyan.com, MW Box Office,

Steve’s 50’s Diner 374 Coverdale Rd Riverview

Frank’s Music

or call 1-506-383-TREE (8733)

Premium Seats

Adults $18.50 + Service Charges

Groups $15.50 + Service Charges

Children $13.50 + Service Charges

Regular Seats

Adults  $15.50 + Service Charges

Groups $13.50 + Service Charges

Children $10.50 + Service Charges

*Group Rate available for 20 or more tickets purchased in the same order

Service Charges:

Per Ticket $2.00 Convenience Fee          

Per Order $1.00 Order Fee (Internet, Box Office, Agent Sale)

$2.50 Order (Telephone) $0.60 Mailing Fee (Up to 10 tickets)

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