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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Area savors the season beyond bean counting

Christmas productions abound, again, and people eagerly attend.

GREEN BAY, Wis., (WFRV) – We hear a lot about Christmas shopping, “the shopping season,” numbers of shoppers and tallies of Christmas/holiday buying. Bean counting. Underlying everything is a compelling pulse. That pulse is found in the thousands of religious services held throughout our region, known essentially congregation by congregation in a kind of one-on-one awareness and not as public news, so to speak. We are also aware something is up through the multitude of public performances that pop up related to Christmas. People love Christmas. Well, mostly. There are Grinches. But Grinches don’t go to Christmas shows, and this column is about Christmas shows.

In the WFRV viewing area since the middle of November, there were scores of Christmas productions accounting for hundreds of performances seen by tens of thousands of people. Step back, and the volume and variety of productions are amazing.

This year, I saw 17 Christmas performances (plus some others), among many more going on simultaneously.

I can do a type of tallying.

Each production involved scheduling done many months before.

Each took many hours of rehearsal. Scores of people put aside other things in their lives to devote time to join others in preparing a “show” they believed would be rewarding for others to see. Hours and hours.

Each production took construction, equipment, publicity, coordination and money to put on.

People involved had to have essential skills in the first place, behind the necessities of performance and all the practice and training for that.

Each production had a kernel of interest – finding out about Scrooge’s redemption, visiting Clara’s fantasies in “Nutcracker,” embracing the season in gorgeous music by masses of instrumentalists and singers, discovering the cultural tradition of Christmas trees that survived from the Old World, experiencing medieval carols brought into the realm of electronic music and myriad images, seeing one actor perform an entourage of characters from a beloved movie, traveling to famous places in New York City at Christmas, being witness to an antic-filled company Christmas party, re-visiting popular Christmas window scenes in which the figurines come alive. That’s just a sampler.

Riches were found in the shared experiences. People all over the region made a point of taking in a performance knowing there would be something good that would be found at the core.

They weren’t shopping. They weren’t fussing over lists or thinking $$$. They were looking for, and probably finding, their share of a merry Christmas.

You may email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV at 6:45 p.m. Thursdays and every other Sunday between 6 and 8 a.m. (usually around 7:45 a.m.)

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