Special to The Sumter ItemIt's been more than two decades since the Sumter Civic Dance Company presented its first "Jingle with the Arts," and the colorful show has brought talented performers to the Patriot Hall stage each December since. Inspired …
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Special to The Sumter Item
It's been more than two decades since the Sumter Civic Dance Company presented its first "Jingle with the Arts," and the colorful show has brought talented performers to the Patriot Hall stage each December since. Inspired by company director Andrea Freed-Levenson's attendance at The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Christmas Show years ago, "Jingle," as the show is familiarly called, has all the trappings of its model - dance, live music, colorful sets and costumes and more.
Freed-Levenson didn't start out to produce Jingle annually, she said, but "people loved it and grew to look forward to it each December."
Three performances of the Christmas spectacular will be presented Friday and Saturday at Patriot Hall, with scores of dancers and guest choirs including the Sumter High School Show Choir, the Bethesda Church of God Choir and the Lee Central High School Gospel Choir. In addition to the Sumter Civic Dance Company, there will be performances by the Sumter Civic Ballet Company, the Sumter Civic Apprentice Company, the Freed School Gymnastics Team, the Freed School Youth Theater and the Junior Company & Sprites.
The format for the 90-minute Jingle comprises five scenes, as it has since the first show in 1995; however, the music and choreography are new, Freed-Levenson said. She said she writes most of the show and "sit(s) down with Ashlee Poole, director of the SHS Show Choir, to make sure it has the right flow, without a pause."
The music is a mix of the familiar and some lesser-known Christmas songs, Freed-Levenson said, adding that "some people say 'I haven't heard that in a long time,' and the audiences are very receptive to the newer music."
As for the dance, she said the scenes run the gamut of styles, with classical ballet, can can, tap, contemporary/lyrical and jazz.
She is the primary choreographer, with Erin Levenson Harms setting the choreography for the Christmas Can Can and Andrea Govier setting the choreography for "Elves and Ornaments" and a Hip-Hop number. Together, they choreographed and will dance "Take Me Home." Both have choreographed the gymnastics team's performance.
Scenes in the show include, in order, Holiday Shopping, Winter Wonderland Snow Drop, Gifts and Toys, Santa's Man Cave and The Reason for the Season.
The Sumter Civic Dance Company will open the show in Scene 1 with a Jingle medley, the Sumter High School Show Choir and Bethesda COG Choir will sing, and all the choirs will join in singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
The reindeer, "holiday favorites," will entertain Santa and the Grinch in the man cave, as will the Visitors from Afar with a newly choreographed Riverdance, and the Bethesda COG and Lee Central High School choirs will sing.
Hard-pressed to name the "showstopper," Freed-Levenson said "Laffy Taffy" is back because of requests from the public and "Jellicle Ball" from the Broadway musical "Cats" will be seen in the Gifts and Toys scene.
Jingle is a mix of the sacred and the secular until the final scene, which Freed-Levenson said is "our finale. After all, it is about the 'Reason for the Season.'"
The scene will open with the Sumter Civic Dance Company performing to "I Look to You," followed by songs including "Be Lifted," sung by the Bethesda COG Choir; "Someday at Christmas," by the Sumter High School Choir; and "Now Behold the Lamb" by the Lee Central High School Honors Choir. Harms and Govier will dance to "Take Me Home," and the entire cast will join in singing "Lean on Me."
"Like I always say about Jingle with the Arts," Freed-Levenson said, "if you're not in the Christmas spirit when you come in, you will be when you go out."
Freed-Levenson is artistic director of "Jingle with the Arts," David Shoemaker is technical director, and Sondra Tidwell is stage manager. Ashlee Poole directs the Sumter High School Show Choir with Ariel Mack as choreographer; Julia Sims Owens directs the Bethesda Church of God Choir; and Thomas Slater directs the Lee Central High School Honors Chorale and Gospel Choir.
The Sumter Civic Dance Company presents the 23rd-Annual Jingle with the Arts at Patriot Hall, 135 Haynsworth St., at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at Freed School of Performing Arts, 527 N. Guignard Drive, or by calling (803) 773-2847.
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