2005-11-23 / Lifestyles

‘Chapel presents ‘The Living Singing Christmas Tree'

by JILL SCHMELZER, Reporter

Jessica Field, 17, posed with Rachel Kauderer, 7, and Jaclyn Willert, 16, during a rehearsal at the Chapel at Crosspoint. Photos by John Rusac. Jessica Field, 17, posed with Rachel Kauderer, 7, and Jaclyn Willert, 16, during a rehearsal at the Chapel at Crosspoint. Photos by John Rusac. Imagine 130,000 lights and 110 carolers singing holiday melodies in choir seats built into a giant Christmas tree.

With each large orchestral beat the lighting reacts to make more of an impact on the story.

The Chapel at Crosspoint will present its 35th production of “The Living Singing Christmas Tree” at its new location, 500 Crosspoint Parkway, Getzville.

“This will be the first “Tree” in the new building at Crosspoint so it is bound to be extra special. I’m excited, I can’t wait,” a member of the choir, Barbara McFarland, said.

This year, because of the larger building, there will be nine performances instead of the usual 14.

The performances will be held at 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4, again at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, and lastly at 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11.

Three special productions will be performed on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at 4 and 6 p.m. and again on Christmas Day, Dec. 25 at 10:30 a.m.

Mary Dowd, above, plays one of the snowflakes in this year’s production of “The Living Singing Christmas Tree.” Right, Pat Krause, “Blanch,” Maruel Dewitt,“Jean,” Ron McCann, “Tom,” and Dan Romano “Craig” rehearsed their lines. Mary Dowd, above, plays one of the snowflakes in this year’s production of “The Living Singing Christmas Tree.” Right, Pat Krause, “Blanch,” Maruel Dewitt,“Jean,” Ron McCann, “Tom,” and Dan Romano “Craig” rehearsed their lines. With a cast of 200 church members, and a crew of more than 200 people, the production is more of a Broadway style than a pageant, Jody Casper said.

The play takes about seven months to put together before rehearsals begin in late September.

Each year, Worship Pastor Russell Freeman and Casper, the producer, go to a large music conference in California to listen to a variety of music. Upon arriving home, Rev. Freeman chooses the music and then Casper writes a story line to correlate with the music.

The story always has an underlying message that appeals to the general public. “This year, the production will be based upon the Prodigal Son, only this play will be about a wayward daughter,” Casper said.

Once that is put together, auditions are held for the speaking cast, Casper said. Then auditions are held by the choreographer, Judy Kauderer, for the dancers.

Page design by Gloria Cinotti Page design by Gloria Cinotti Since the end of September, rehearsals have been held every Sunday for the general cast, dancers and speaking roles, Casper said.

All the music is put on CD for the members of the choir. They start rehearsing in early September.

McFarland said she memorizes the songs by singing along with the CD while driving.

Remembering a time in early September, McFarland said, “I’ve always felt a little silly singing “Winter Wonderland” or “O Holy Night” at a stop light with the windows rolled down. People are probably thinking I am way too eager for the Christmas season.”

The event brings all different ministries of the church together. They have the opportunity to show off their many gifts and talents, Casper said.

“My commitment is weekly help of bringing the people of The Chapel at Crosspoint into the presence of God,” McFarland said. “Being in the Tree is simply a bonus, icing on the cake.”

The Tree is a tradition and legend of Western New York. Tour busses from all over the United States attend the concerts. Last year, there were guests from New Zealand and France that came to watch.

“The most memorable moment last year was at our last show,” McFarland remembered. “ A soldier had returned home from Afghanistan and when we learned that, the entire audience stood to their feet and applauded him. It was incredibly moving.”

The Chapel provides numbered seating at a cost of $15 each. For tickets, call 631-2636 ext. 241 or visit www. thechapel. com.

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