The stage may be different, yet the tradition lives on just the same.
Snow, sleet nor shutdown could stand in the way of Lyric Arts in Anoka putting on its annual holiday shows, with “Home for the Holidays” premiering Dec. 10 and a children’s show “Home for the Holidays, Too: A Family Fa-La-La” following Dec. 17.
The show can be viewed all the way through Jan. 3, with a ticket granting unlimited viewings throughout the period. The children’s performance premieres Dec. 17 and is free to view.
Step into the living room of Lyric Arts Artistic and Executive Director Laura Tahja Johnson and her husband Tony Johnson and into a world of laughs, music and tugs at the heartstrings through the works of several Lyric Arts performers.
“We are taking the title ‘Home for the Holidays’ quite literally,” Johnson said. “Holiday shows have become quite a tradition at Lyric Arts and we couldn’t let 2020 be any different.
“Our holiday shows are typically stage productions, whereas these shows are more like concerts. However, the talent is still remarkable and we promise you these shows will instill the same joy in your heart that one of our live performances would. My inspiration was the TV Variety Specials of the 1970s – amazing singers, some corny jokes and a whole lot of joy.”
The original plan was to put together a live-streamed concert from the Main Street Stage. But with COVID-19 numbers rising, the decision was made to switch to a virtual setting. A different stage for a different type of season, but one still full of traditional favorites.
“Lyric Arts typically produces two holiday shows every year – both of them being for the whole family, but one more focused on children. So, in that way, this year is no different. What is completely different, however, is the fact that we have to do everything remotely. Our incredible music director Bradley Beahen records a music track, which is downloaded by the performer. The performer records a ‘vocals only’ video while listening to the accompaniment through an ear piece, then transfers the video back to our editor so the final accompaniment can be added to the video and synced up with the singer’s performance.
“We have some incredible performances by some really talented people. I am always excited to showcase our artists. There are numbers that will make you laugh out loud and numbers that will tug at the heartstrings. ‘Family Fa-La-La’ promises to be a good time for the whole family and will be filled with some favorite holiday songs for kids, a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ and a surprise or two.”
The work behind organizing holiday concerts is always extensive, with this year no different. What has been altered is the style of communication, with new virtual aspects being learned that will now be able to enhance future productions as well.
“Collaboration is the key to getting any production ready to open, but the style of communication and amount of collaboration completely changes when working remotely,” Johnson said. “Virtual and streaming performances have given us the opportunity to learn a number of new technical skills that we look forward to using further in the new year.”
Streaming passes for “Home for the Holidays” can be purchased online at lyricarts.org/buy-tickets. The link for viewing will be emailed to pass-holders on the day of the event.
“A Family Fa-La-La” is being offered for free as a gift to young viewers.
“This year has been so hard for some many school children, we are happy to share a little extra holiday joy with them,” Johnson said.
The year has been tough on many non-profit organizations, Lyric Arts included. Ticket purchases and any further tax-deductible donations will enable Lyric Arts to return strong in the new year, with plans already underway for what comes next.
“Thanks to some government grants and loans, we are able to survive for a while without ticket sales, though not indefinitely,” Johnson said. “Contributions before the end of the year will give Lyric Arts the resources we need to come back strong in 2021, as soon as it is safe for us to open our doors again. Donations now will pay for royalties, buy supplies and put artists back to work, in addition to supporting our education program, which is operating virtually right now.
“We definitely have plans in the works for 2021. You can expect some virtual productions early in the year. Beyond that, the direction our artistic plans take will be partially decided by the course of the pandemic. Everyone at Lyric Arts is looking forward to getting back to work and welcoming our fans and supporters back to the Main Street Stage as soon as possible.”