The Molalla High School Choral Department is presenting four shows at the high school auditorium on Dec. 7-9

PIONEER FILE PHOTO - Molalla Singing Christmas Tree dives under the sea at the high school auditorium on Dec. 7-9. Pictured is the 2016 Molalla Singing Christmas Tree.

This year, Molalla's Singing Christmas Tree is diving under the sea where characters will encounter a clash of cultures: humans and sea creatures.

"It's a story of two cultures that are trying to figure out a way to respect each other's traditions and celebrate together," said director Tim Friesen. "And that theme in our world today is a prominent theme: cultures that don't get along, that don't understand each other. So, that's our antagonist. Normally with our stories, we have an antagonist, a bad guy. Well our antagonist this year is not a bad guy, it's an idea."

But the production won't drown viewers with heavy material. Instead, Friesen and co-writer Randy Fischer have created a "Christmas Under the Sea" script that stays afloat with humor and, of course, music.

The Molalla High School Choral Department is presenting four showings of the production at the high school's Molalla River Civic Auditorium on Dec. 7-9.

The stage will be flooded with variations of nine different choirs and a full cast of actors. The participating choirs include the Molalla Community Choir, MHS Alumni Choir, MHS Chorale, MHS Concert Choir, MHS Social Aires, Molalla Middle School Choir and three children's choirs. The LDS church choir is also participating in one of the shows. Nearly 350 people will overflow from the stage during the largest number of the show.

"This is not a small town school program." -Tim Friesen

Molalla's Singing Christmas Tree has been swimming along for 23 years now, but has evolved from a simple Christmas Concert into something much bigger, involving 22-23 musical numbers mixed in with the storyline. And the show is splashed together entirely by volunteers.

"If you've never been, I think you'll find out when you walk in and you watch the show…this is not a small town school program," Friesen said. "That's the thing we've been told again and again is: 'Wow, I never expected this.' And that's a tribute to my parents that work their backside off to make it happen. There's no way I could ever, in a million years, do this by myself."

To prepare for the big show, choirs and actors are rehearsing every day, while students and the parent volunteer committee are putting together the set. In the end, the show will come together through one dress rehearsal, and for Friesen, that's the most exciting part.

"The thing that is most exciting is when you have all this fragmented stuff working individually—one person is building this part of the set, and these people are memorizing their lines, and these people are working on a song—and it's all fragmented," Friesen said. "And then at the last minute, you bring it all together, and it flows."

There will be four chances to catch the big show this year: Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 7-9 at 7 p.m. each night plus a matinee show on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. Go fishing for tickets on by searching "Molalla Singing Christmas Tree." All of the funds raised go toward the MHS Choral Department to help kids go on a choir tour.

Kristen Wohlers
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