FWAFA to present Christmas musicals

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It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas at the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts.

The charter school, which houses students from third through 12th grades, is producing the Texas Boys Choir Christmas Festival Concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 16 at Arborlawn United Methodist Church, as well as the Candy Cane Cabaret at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at the school.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity to see the level of talent that we have in our own community,” said Laura Kinkade, communications manager for Texas Boys Choir, Inc., which runs the school. “Sometimes it just amazes me.”

Kinkade said these shows provide people with happy, uplifting and feel-good performances.

For example, the Christmas concert tells the story of the birth of Christ through song and narration.

Bryan Priddy, artistic director of the Texas Boys Choir, said, “It is a unique program in that it is entirely sacred music. Everything flows from one thing into the other, and the thing that connects the pieces are the narrations, which are either from scripture or sacred poetry.”

Candy Cane Cabaret, meanwhile, is a secular performance.

Nicholas Morris, director of the cabaret, said, “It’s a variety of music and a variety of style of dances, but it’s all mainly from the musical theater-feel. Because they’re musical theater-based classes, we wanted to teach that style of singing and that style of dance.”

Songs include traditional holiday favorites such as “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”  

The show, which is produced by the school’s eighth through 12th grade musical theater classes, has two acts composed of stand-alone performances, Morris said.

Both acts have loose themes, he said. The first act features a love theme, and the second act has an outdoor winter motif which transitions into the topic of being home for the holidays.

The show, as a whole, also has its own theme.

“Even though it’s Candy Cane Cabaret, we’re kind of going with a sugarplum theme, so there’s going to be lots of sweets and treats to eat in the lobby before and during intermission,” Morris said.

This is Morris’s first year teaching at the academy, so he said he hopes the show’s caliber and level of excellence are even higher than they have been in the past.

He said the students, who have been rehearsing for Candy Cane Cabaret since October, are excited that the show is on a different level than in previous years.

“It’s going to be a class act,” he said. “It’s part of our showcase series, so I think that it’s going to be at a level where people are going to be ‘I’m glad I paid for this ticket.'"

Morris said the show is family-friendly, and he thinks there will be something for everybody due to its variety.

“It’s definitely going to be a fun evening,” he said. “We’ve got everything from ‘Mr. Grinch,’ and we actually have a Grinch in costume, to sentimental, everything from your heart laughing out loud to your heart being touched.”

Like Kinkade, Morris said he is excited by the students’ skills.

“The talent level really is pretty phenomenal as far as what these kids can do,” he said.    

Likewise, anticipation is rising for the Christmas concert.

Priddy said an added benefit of this concert is that for the first time, brass faculty from TCU will accompany the Texas Boy’s Choir. The performance is promised to take listeners on an emotional roller coaster.

“It’s from the loudest fortes to the softest, most intimate pianos,” Priddy said. “Basically, what I try to do is show the breadth and the depth of possibilities with this instrument they call the boy choir.”

 He said there is beauty in the show as the music allows the boys to sing with a maturity far beyond their chronological ages.

“I describe it as being understated elegance, which is funny because you’re using all boys, and boys are not known to be elegant,” Priddy said. “But when you put a robe on them, and they process, it’s an image that has been around for centuries. And when people hear this sound, especially the unchanged voices, it’s a sound that you know is fleeting. It’s here one year and gone the next. And so there’s kind of a magic element there.”

Priddy said he wants those who are considering coming to the concert to know that it is one of the best gifts a person can give himself or others for Christmas.

“We regularly have people come to me after this concert in tears saying it is the most moving Christmas concert they’d ever attended in their life,” he said. “And that’s saying a lot considering some of these have been church musicians their entire lives.”

Kinkade said people will find both performances happy and uplifting.

 “They’re going to come and enjoy it, have a great time and leave with a smile on their face,” she said.

Morris recommends people purchase their tickets early, since each performance is only for one night.

Tickets for Candy Cane Cabaret are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Tickets for the Texas Boys Choir Christmas Festival Concert are $5 for students and $13 for adults in advance. At the door, they are $7 for students and $15 for adults. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

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