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Weekend In Entertainment: Musicals, Gray Holiday Party & The Singing Christmas Tree

Singing Christmas Tree
Carolina Voices

The holiday season is in full swing and that means lots of holiday events are on the agenda for this edition of Weekend In Entertainment. There's a musical performance, a holiday party. There's even a singing Christmas tree in the lineup. Joining "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to discuss these and other arts and cultural events is Katrina Louis, managing editor of QCity Metro. 

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi, Katrina. 

Katrina Louis: Hey, Gwen. 

Glenn: So let's start with some music. Be A Lion, an original song from the musical The Wiz is also the name of a musical in town tonight. Katrina, tell us more about this Wiz inspired performance. 

Louis: "Be a Lion" picks up where "The Wiz" left off after Dorothy goes home from the Emerald City. And I've seen it -- this is my second year seeing it. So it’s centered around Evillene, the wicked witch who died in The Wiz has a daughter apparently named Damneesha, and she is out to avenge her mother's death. So she's after the crew. That includes the Lion, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Dorothy even makes her return. So it’s their journey the Lion becoming who he is supposed to be. But all the while Damneesha’s on their tail. 

Katrina Louis, QCity Metro
Credit Sarafina Wright
Katrina Louis, managing editor of QCity Metro

Glenn: Lots of twists and turns in that one. 

Louis: Yep. 

Glenn: So where can people see it and how long is it going to be here? 

Louis: This is the closing weekend, so it closes on Saturday, but it'll be at the Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square. So definitely get your tickets for that, you'll enjoy the show. 

Glenn: Okay, and starting tonight through Saturday, there is another musical performance with Chickspeare presents EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (and Then Some!). Katrina tell us about that?

Louis: So this is pretty cool, too. Chickspeare is an all-woman Shakespeare Company. It's Charlotte's off-Broadway, they present like you said, "Every Christmas Story Ever Told. (And then some.)" The show includes The Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and just about every other character from holiday myths, movies, and TV specials. The creators say that this is a fast paced and interactive performance. So it also features holiday traditions from around the world. Sing-alongs of every Christmas carol ever sung and just all your holiday favorites. Sounds like a lot of fun. 

Glenn: Where will it be onstage? 

Louis: It's taking place at Johnson C. Smith University’s Arts Factory. 

Glenn: And where is that? 

Louis: Across the street from Johnson C. Smith. Mosaic Village is probably the landmark that people will recognize. 

Glenn: Okay. Sounds great and tonight percussionist Gino Castillo will be live at Middle C Jazz Uptown. Sounds like a good show. 

Louis: Yeah. There's actually a couple of performances. You can see it tonight through Saturday. And it's at Charlotte's newest jazz club with all the buzz, Middle C Jazz Club. But his music is a blend between a fusion of salsa and Latin jazz. Things like that. So it's a really cool show. He's got a band. So if you're into live music, you should definitely check it out. They actually have shows tonight through Saturday. So, there's a couple of performances that you can go to and see. 

Glenn: Also on Saturday, there's the annual Gray Holiday Party at the Harvey B. Gantt Arts and Cultural Center uptown. And I understand this is an event that a lot of people look forward to every year? Tell us about that.

Louis: This year it’s the 8th annual holiday party. It's actually a fundraiser benefiting the Gantt Center. So it goes towards their exhibitions and putting on programing and things like that. You get to get dressed up all fancy. They'll have music, you know, with DJs. It's a multi-level party. So there'll be food. There'll be Santa. You can get your pictures taken. Very Instagramable. That's the thing right now with events. But it's a good time. You know, people come out, get dressed up and enjoy the holidays benefiting the Gantt Center. 

Glenn: Definitely a party with a cause. Yeah. And finally, there's the magic of Christmas and the Singing Christmas Tree.

Louis: So the Charlotte Symphony and Carolina Voices have joined together for the singing Christmas tree performance. So what makes this cool and different is that it's quintessential holiday songs and the singers are literally inside of a Christmas tree all the way to the top. And then there's an angel singing at the top. 

Glenn: I was wondering about that. How large is this Christmas tree? 

Louis: So I haven't actually been to this show, but I hear like it pretty much takes up the stage. So it's pretty tall. You know, the singers are actually inside of it. 

Glenn: Oh, wow, a vision came in my head. That's going to be a lot of fun. Sounds like it's gonna be a great event. 

Louis: Yeah. So that's at the Knight Theater and the show kicks off tomorrow night and will run through Sunday the 21st. 

Glenn: Sounds great. Thanks, Katrina. 

Louis: Thanks, Gwen. 

Glenn: And that's Katrina Louis, managing editor, QCity Metro.

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.