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Variety show running from Dec. 1-4 set to entertain with dancers, singers and audience participation

Get a jumpstart on the holidays with A Touch Too Much Productions' Christmas Spectacular "Get Christmassy" Dec. 1-4 at Milwaukie's Chapel Theatre.

John-Ryan Griggs, of A Touch Too Much Productions, and his co-host, Alison Cline, first produced this holiday event in 2019. And now they're back with this year's variety show, featuring Geoff Wishart's Wish Heart Dance Company along with singers, rappers, burlesque and a Christmas-themed game show competition.PHOTO COURTESY: JOHN THOMPSON - John-Ryan Grigg and Alison Cline, performing as the Christmas Crackers, perform a song at last year's Christmas Spectacular.

"There are a lot of Christmas shows this time of year, but most of them have children as their target audience. John-Ryan's Christmas Spectacular is different because it's a variety show geared at an adult audience," Griggs said.

"Our cast has a range of skills and interests, and we are all pulling from our own nostalgia and creativity, so in the end, our audience gets a wide range of acts that you are not going to find anywhere else," he said. Griggs added that he knows that many attendees do bring their children, and he factors that into the writing process, so that the show is appropriate for all ages.

One unique aspect of "Get Christmassy" is the holiday-themed quiz show with audience participation.

"This year we're focusing on holiday movies and Christmas songs. If the contestant gets their question right, they win a prize," Griggs said.

"My favorite part was choosing which movies I'd ask questions from; there are so many great films, and even more terrible ones to choose from," he added.

Variety show

For those who missed Wish Heart Dance Company's sold-put Halloween-themed performances in October, this is another chance to see that group in action. Other performers featured in "Get Christmassy" include Baldy & The Hairs, Talisman Saunders and Levi Buchanan.PHOTO COURTESY: JOHN THOMPSON - Levi Buchanan and Alison Cline perform at last year's Christmas Spectacular.

Baldy & The Hairs is a one-man-band, singer/songwriter with a love of Christmas and a fun spin on a couple of classic songs, Griggs said.

"I'm looking forward to his act because it's just him and his guitar, and it's an acoustic moment not found elsewhere in the show."

Saunders, from Portland's Karaoke from Hell, brings to the variety show a knowledge of music that is remarkable, Griggs noted.

"She always knows super obscure songs that I've never heard of before, she's a breeze to work with and a true delight to watch perform," Griggs said, adding that last year Saunders covered The Carpenters' "Merry Christmas Darling," and it was his favorite moment in the show.

Also performing will be Levi Buchanan, a filmmaker, karaoke addict and "the best dressed gentleman in the whole production," Griggs said.

Christmas Crackers

Griggs and Cline formed the singing duo the Christmas Crackers last year, performing their original song "So Christmas" at the 2021 Christmas Spectacular.

Griggs said he realized that if he was going to host this annual extravaganza, he'd better have a little something up his sleeve.

"I have dabbled with music in the past, but once I paired up with Alison and started writing, the real magic began," he said.

The response to "So Christmas" was so positive that Griggs and Cline knew they needed to come up with some new songs for the 2022 show.

"We started working on new stuff early in the year, and had recorded 'Christmas in Las Vegas' and 'Get Christmassy with Me,' when Alison sent me a singing voice memo from a walk with her dogs," Griggs said.

It was a ballad she sang about wanting to change the world with the Christmas spirit and it inspired Griggs to write a disco song called "GayXmas."

"I thought disco was perfect for this song because disco is like Christmas music, in that it's always dismissed as being cheap and disposable, but disco actually has a lot of significance," he said.

"We wanted 'GayXmas' to be a song about embracing the love and positivity that surround the holiday season and sharing that with others," he noted.

People should come and see the show because it's about fun and the joy of celebration of the holiday season, Griggs said.

"It's not about church or Santa, but sharing humor and happiness with each other."

He added, "Alison and I have been given this enormous love of Christmas and it's our job to distribute that; sprinkling it throughout the show and sending everyone in the cast and audience home sparkling and ready for the holiday season."

'Get Christmassy'

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 1, 2 and 3 and at 3 p.m. Dec. 4

Where: Chapel Theatre, 4107 S.E. Harrison St., Milwaukie

Details: Tickets are $22 and are available at jrxmas.com.


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