24th year of Sumter's Jingle with the Arts begins Friday, Dec. 14

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 12/9/18

Jingle with the Arts, the Christmas extravaganza now in its 24th year, will fill Patriot Hall with dance, music and the spirit of the season with three performances on Friday and Saturday. The popular show again features performances by the Sumter …

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24th year of Sumter's Jingle with the Arts begins Friday, Dec. 14

Posted

Jingle with the Arts, the Christmas extravaganza now in its 24th year, will fill Patriot Hall with dance, music and the spirit of the season with three performances on Friday and Saturday. The popular show again features performances by the Sumter Civic Dance Company and guests from the community.

"The idea for the show was inspired by the (Radio City Music Hall) Rockettes Christmas show," Andrea Freed-Levenson said. The executive director of the Sumter Civic Dance Company said the Rockettes' show inspired and challenged her.

"I wanted to see if we could do something like it here," she said.

Turns out they could.

"It's a 'feel good' show," Freed-Levenson said, adding that "it makes you know it's holiday time, for sure." She noted that the performers enjoy doing the show, despite the months of hard work and rehearsals they must put into it.

"It's just loosely based on the Rockettes' show," she said. "We have five scenes, and even though each scene has the same theme each year, the dances and musical numbers are different each time. Some people come to see it every year, and they deserve a new show each time."

Freed-Levenson is the artistic director and main choreographer for the Sumter Civic Dance Company and Jingle with the Arts, and some special choreography is done by Erin Levenson Harms and Andrea Govier, who are each members of the dance company.

"It really is a spectacular show," Freed-Levenson said, "with colorful costumes, lighting and set. We've got the biggest, most elaborate sets and props. David Shoemaker is our technical director, and he does a wonderful, professional job. We couldn't do it without him."

Jingle opens with Scene I, titled Shopping, Shopping, Shopping. The first number is a medley of dances set to popular Christmas tunes and dance by the company. Look for a Rockettes-style kick line in this scene. The Sumter Civic Apprentice Company will dance to "It's Not about the Price Tag," and the Sumter High School Show Choir, directed by Ashlee Poole and choreographed by Ariel Mack, will sing two pieces, "Sleigh Ride" and "Old Toy Train."

"This is the show choir's biggest public performance each year," Freed-Levenson said.

It snows in Scene II, titled Winter Wonderland, and the opening dance has several children joining the Sumter Civic Dance Company in a lyrical piece performed to Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." The SHS Show Choir has two songs to complete the scene.

Scene 3 is titled and set in Santa's Toy Factory. The Freed School Gymnastics Team will perform as toy ninjas, the Sumter Civic Apprentice Company will dance as stocking stuffers, the Freed School Hip Hop Company will portray Gift (w)rappers, and other young dancers will appear as PJ Mask Dolls. The Sumter Civic Dance Company and Apprentice Company will end the scene with the Parade of the Soldiers.

The audience will visit Santa's Hideaway Man Cave in Scene 4, where Santa and the Grinch, both in the congenial spirit of Christmas, are being entertained by various performers. First up are the reindeer, back each year "by popular demand," Freed-Levenson said. They are portrayed by members of the Sumter Civic Dance Company: Jazmine Washington as Dasher, Erin Levenson Harms as Dancer, Gracie Hudson as Prancer, Andrea Govier as Vixen, Kaitlyn Pollock as Comet, Mara Pierce as Cupid, Cedric Hobbs as Donner, Don Phillips as Blitzen and Nicole Dixon as Rudolph.

Also in Scene 4 are the Sumter High School Show Choir singing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Carol of the Bells." Special guests, the Lakewood High School Gospel Choir, directed by Herbert Johnson and accompanied by Anne Dav , will sing "Emmanuel."

There is also a swing dance and "an all-new Riverdance," Freed-Levenson said, danced by the company.

The closing scene is titled "The Reason for the Season" and showcases the entire cast, she said. This scene always highlights the biblical Christmas story, with the Sumter Civic Dance Company opening with a lyrical piece danced to "You Will Be Found," from the Broadway musical "Dear Evan Hansen."

The Sumter Civic Chorale will sing "Jesus, What a Wonderful Child," Herbert Johnson will solo on "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," and the Sumter High School Show Choir will sing "O Holy Night," which refers to "the night of our dear Savior's birth."

The entire cast will join for the finale, "Keep on Following the Star."

Freed-Levenson noted that Jingle with the Arts is usually "the very last Christmas show in Patriot Hall. I always say 'If you're not in the Christmas spirit when you come in, you definitely will be when you leave.'"