We sat down with Dennis to delve a little more deeply into Home for the Holidays and what motivated his ideas and programming. He's really excited about the upcoming show and didn't hesitate to share his feelings about this welcoming tradition.
What can audience members expect to experience when they attend Home for the Holidays?
Oh, they're really going to love the gorgeous holiday music. There are some spine-tingling moments on the program. There will also be tons of opportunities for the audience to laugh and celebrate, and really get into the holiday spirit. There will be new takes on traditional holiday songs, so audiences will be familiar with much of the music but get to experience new twists on that music. And you know what? This is my final holiday show. That's bittersweet for me. Next holiday we'll have a brand new artistic director, so this is their last chance to watch me conduct a holiday show! Finally, there will be a moment during the show where the audience (our community) will join together in a "Best of the Sing-Alongs." This might be my favorite part of the show. It's going to be so much fun and will really make audiences feel at "home."
How did you go about programming your final holiday show?
Many are my favorites:
• The beautiful a cappella "Ave Maria" by Franz Biebl and "O Magnum Mysterium" by Morten Lauridsen are audience and singer favorites
• My favorite witty piece for the holidays: the "What If Carols." They ask the questions like What If Lawrence Welk re-wrote "Away in the Manger" as a polka, or What If Stephen Sondheim turned Sweeney Todd into a ballad about a suspiciously evil Saint Nick? So much fun!
• The incredible talent of Tituss Burgess, who will join us in "Simple Gifts," "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch," "What Are You Doing New Years," and more!
We are also reprising some of our audience's favorite numbers from the past several years. We are bringing back harried secretary, Marge Williams, who tries to please everyone's needs in "A PC Xmas," as well as Captain Smartypants as singing, dancing, Jewish cowboys in "Kislev Cowboys." We also bring back something special from our QUEEN concert, with an added Christmas twist.
Ultimately, the concert is balanced in terms of humor, beautiful choral moments and tradition. Everyone will truly have a great experience.
What are some of your favorite holiday moments in general?
This is difficult to answer because I have so many. I'll start with the tradition of signing "Silent Night." It's a stunningly beautiful moment, and really can take your breath away. Another one of the most exciting and unique things about our holiday concerts in Benaroya Hall is the feeling of shared celebration. Even though it's a large hall, and although it is usually filled to capacity, it truly feels as if everyone there is experiencing joy together. As mentioned above, that really culminates when the audience and singers join together for our traditional Sing-Along.
How do you want people to feel when they walk out of the theatre after attending Home for the Holidays?
I want them to feel that they are connected to the Chorus as one big community celebrating together. I also hope they enjoyed the humor because we have chosen carefully and it is all quite sophisticated. There is truly something for everyone, and we always end on a high, happy note. Our audience will feel uplifted and it's really a show not to be missed.
Give us one moment in the show that you are sure will bring audience members to their feet.
The final number – a twist on a classic rock song that is incredibly fun and clever. I can't wait to see all of our community at my final holiday show!