Forgotten Carols – VCHS choir joins stars in local production

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October 30, 2012

Christmas time is coming, and the Vandebilt Catholic High School Choir is kicking off the season Nov. 30 when the group joins Hollywood and Broadway actors in the local production of the musical, “Forgotten Carols.”

“We never thought that we’d get to be a part of something so prestigious,” said Vandebilt senior Danica Garcia. “It is going to be such an honor to work with people in the business and share our talents with the community.”

Garcia is one of 70 Vandebilt choir members slated to share the stage with Hollywood and Broadway actors Tony Blake, Sandy Laufer Blake, Jesse Einstein, Mary Lane Haskell, Elizabeth Herron, Zacchaeus Kimbrell, Will North and Michael Young.

“Everybody is pretty excited,” sophomore Marisa Dupont said. “Our initial reaction was shock. It was like ‘Wait, what are we doing?’ When (producer) Michael Young came to speak to us, we were in awe when he told us he knows Julie Andrews.”

The students found out about their big performance a few weeks ago and have been busy practicing musical selections such as “The Shepard,” “Three Kings,” “Handel’s Dream,” “Homeless” and “Arise and Shine Forth.”

“Each song has a message,” choir director Sarah Todd said. “We will be ready.”

The musical, a modern-day story about a woman whose life is changed after a personal encounter during the Christmas season, is being presented by Theos Theatricals and produced by Michael Young, an Emmy award-winning television producer and former host of the Miss Teen USA pageant for CBS primetime.

The theatrical production follows the life of a young nurse who views Christmas as a pointless diversion until she is charged with taking care of an older gentleman who believes that he has been alive for more than 2,000 years. He swears he has met most of the people named in the Christmas story, including the innkeeper who turned Joseph and Mary away the night of Jesus’ birth. The connection between the man and the nurse proves lifechanging.

“The main character sings a lot of Christmas carols to his nurse when he is in the hospital, and she is like, ‘Oh, no, not this guy,’” Young said. “She ends up finding the Lord and thinks, ‘If you stop and think about it, we have all we need.’ It’s a great, wonderful Christmas story. And the old man is actually an angel.”

Young will be playing the part of the old man in the production and, as he prepares to fill the role, is enjoying getting to grow his beard out.

“This is my first time to grow beard, and I kind of like it,” Young said, laughing. “I’m also getting to grow my hair out. I haven’t had long hair since high school in the 1960s. I remember when I wanted to get my first car, my dad said I had to get my grades up, go to church and cut my hair. I told him that Samson, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ all had long hair. He said, ‘Yeah, but they walked everywhere.’”

Young owns the film rights to “Forgotten Carols” and hopes to start filming it in locations throughout the south early next year.

“There are such great state tax incentives in the South,” he said. “New Orleans and Altanta are major places for filming. There are huge opportunities here.”

Young is among producers looking to create a religious film with “Forgotten Carols.”

“Blockbuster films cost a lot to make and cast a wide net to make lots of money versus spending $1 to $1.5 million on projects for very specific audiences,” Young said. “Films like “Saving the Giants,” “Courageous” and “Fireproof” are being produced for very little and the amount of money these films earn is growing.”

Meanwhile, the producer is hopeful “Forgotten Carols” will have an impact on those who see the play later this month at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center at 7 p.m.

“I want the local production of ‘Forgotten Carols’ to become a Christmas tradition for local families,” he said.

Tickets to the Nov. 30 show are available online or by phone through Ticketmaster or at the Houma Civic Center box office. Tickets are $20 per person. Prior to the play, Les Sonnettes Des Joie, the Mulberry Bell Ringers, will perform a concert.

“We will play 10 pieces that night, both secular and non-secular,” said Le Sonnettes De Joie director Lisa Schilling. ‘We will also perform carols and things for children; something for everyone, we hope. We will also do some hymn singing for the crowd to participate in.”

Schilling is one of the group’s 13 members and has been a bell ringer for more than 22 years. She has also served as the group’s director for 10 years.

“Janel Ricca, director of the Houma Terrebonne Civic-Center, asked if we wanted to do a concert before the play, and I told her we would be delighted to,” Schilling said. “We have been participating in the civic center’s Christmas programs for years. I hope people will come out and support us at this event.”

Vandebilt High School choir member Eric Bourg plays the piano while choir director Sarah Todd leads his fellow singers. The 70-member choir will acccomany Hollywood and Broadway actors in the local production of the Forgotten Carols on Nov. 31 .