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Shows Dec. 12-14 offer a fun take on the Christmas-time musical offerings that run throughout the area

Every year from the mid-1990s, various choirs and actors have entertained residents from the Molalla area at the Singing Christmas Tree event.

This year the stage is set with a giant Christmas tree and features a mixture of classic and contemporary Christmas carols, along with a show that, while it's slightly off Broadway, appears to have the feel of a Broadway musical.

This year's show will feature seven different choirs, the Concert, Chorale and Social Aires groups from Molalla River High School, the Molalla River Middle School Choir, elementary aged students from the Community Children's Choir, an adult volunteer community choir and any alumni from Molalla High School choir director and teacher Tim Friesen's music classes. They will join with 14 actors to present the show. There's more than 250 people involved in this year's production.

The play was written last spring and early summer by Friesen and Randy Fishcher, a former Molalla High teacher. This year's show is the 25th or silver anniversary presentation, and occurs in the realm of London in the 1870s, about a decade after Ebenezer Scrooge decided to turn to the light.

"Tiny Tim is a teenager and that's all I'm going to tell you," Friesen said because he didn't want to ruin the show.

The idea behind the Singing Christmas Tree came about before the turn of this century, said Friesen. It allowed students to raise funds so that choir students could travel and represent Molalla High School. And it still does.

"It began after the one in Portland. One group would sing in the tree and another would perform on stage. At first it was held in the Nazarene Church in Molalla. The first two years we used the tree structure from Salem. After that the school's wood shop built the tree," Friesen explained.

He noted the real background of the show is a committee of about six to eight people. This is the group that ensures the program goes off without a hitch, he said. The core committee has also been doing their job for quite a while because most of their children already have finished their high school years and gone onward.

They work with the parent and student volunteers who spend hours preparing the stage for the amazing event. The money raised from ticket sales allows Friesen to take his choirs on trips. Student singers also volunteer a minimum of five hours of work painting, getting costumes ready, setting the stage or doing other things to put in their time so they can travel.

This year Friesen's three groups, the Concert Choir, Chorale and the Social Aires will be going to Universal Studios Florida for the National Chorale Festival. They leave on April 23.

But it's the ticket sales, with help from Molalla Communications, which allows the Singing Christmas Tree to raise the money needed to get the musicians to Florida. Friesen said Molalla Communications is the main sponsor of the program and allows the singers to earn nearly 100 percent of the profit. There also are numerous local businesses that also help out. These vary year-to-year, but Molalla Communications is the main and most helpful sponsor, he said.

Tickets for the Dec. 12, 13 and 14 shows at 7 p.m. each night are on sale now. They are $10 apiece and can be bought at www.eventgroove.com by clicking on Oregon and selecting the 2019 Molalla High School Singing Christmas Tree. There's also an information line at 503-829-SING (7564). The event is held at the Molalla River High School auditorium, 357 Francis St.

There will also be a matinee on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m.

Friesen advises those who really want to see the show to buy their tickets online because they are usually gone before the performance. There is wheelchair access. Doors are open an hour before each performance, with seating 30 minutes ahead. There will be water and cookies available to purchase during intermission. DVDs may be pre-ordered.


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