That’s what Karen Burns, a Reno-based show director who always wanted to do a Christmas musical, realized back in September. Having been a director, avid dancer and performer in many shows herself, Burns knew this was the right time for it, too.
“Christmas is so commercialized, it’s easy to lose the spirit of it and especially with the war and the economy, everyone is kind of depressed and scared,” Burns said. “We need a little Christmas now more than ever.”
Luckily, Thursday night, Christmas will come early as Burns’ production “A Classic Christmas Celebration” takes the stage at John Ascuaga's Nugget, bringing music, dancing and what Burns likes to call “a little escape.”
The show is set to reincarnate some of the Christmas favorites like Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” and even a special “Toyland” finale, blending the likes of ballet, tap and modern dancing in a medley of wonderment in an all-ages show.
And just like Santa, Burns has a few tricks in the bag.
As a former performer in one of the longest running stage shows “Hello Hollywood Hello,” Burns has something that will set this Christmas musical apart from the rest — costumes.
Sequins, diamonds and above all, glamour. That’s what Burns is bringing to the stage. Each costume actually was a part of the original “Hello Hollywood Hello” wardrobe, which Burns had an opportunity to purchase back in 1994.
Owning nearly 85 percent of the original collection, Burns recalled her time with HHH production, detailing that for the 150 people on cast, each person changed about 10 to 15 times over the course of one show.
“As a little girl, I used to play dress up,” Burns said. “And now, I’m always about the costumes. I’m constantly looking at costumes in movies and in museum showings. What people wear identifies who they are. I think people forget how important costume design really is.”
And the cast loves every minute of dressing up in them.
Laura Dale, a 23-year-old who has been working with Burns for the past six years, said her favorite part of this production was the costumes.
“It’s so much fun seeing people’s reactions to them,” Dale said.
As far as what’s behind the costumes, Burns said she is confident in her 25-member cast and their chemistry together on and off stage.
“We’re starting to joke around, calling this a family production,” Burns said, mentioning that she has known more than half the cast for a decade or more. “The whole cast is great and their camaraderie, the feeling of what they’re creating on stage and how they feel about each other, will transmit to the audience.”
That said, Burns believes that the spirit of a Christmas show should reflect that uniting feeling, like that of a family.
“We have actors ranging from 5 years old to 55 years old,” Burns said with a laugh, mentioning that she hopes the age range helps families enjoy the show together. “We want everyone to feel connected.”
And it’s the children performers that bring it all together, Burns explained, noting that the awe a child has for Christmas is priceless.
“I started thinking about Christmas from a child’s eye view, when you thought it was all so special,” Burns said. “Working with these kids, you can see that they really are excited to do it, from all their energy and enthusiasm for these songs and the looks on their faces.”
In the end though, Burns said she hopes to just be able to give hers and her cast’s Christmas gift to the community, mentioning that there is a lacking of true Christmas shows around today.
“I love Christmas, I really do,” Burns said. “I love the lights, the feeling and the sweetness of it. And seeing people enjoy that and being able to work with such talented performers is so worthwhile."
A Classic Christmas Celebration opens at 7 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday and at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are $28 for adults, $24 for seniors over 65 and $19 for children 12 and under. Tickets are available for purchase by calling (800) 648-1177 or by visiting www.tickets.com.