Fun, upbeat, swinging, jazzy: These are just a few of the words that performers in two upcoming holiday programs at Prescott's Elks Theater use to describe their productions.
In fact, anyone longing for a bit of light-hearted Christmas fare mixed with all of the songs that bring on holiday nostalgia need look no farther than the Elks.
Scheduled for Dec. 18, and Dec. 21, respectively, "A Classic Country Christmas," and "A Swingin' Christmas" will take to the stage at the historic Elks Theatre & Performing Arts Center in downtown Prescott.
While vastly different shows, both productions are the work of Lonely Street Productions - the Tucson-based theater company that has brought a number of musical programs to Prescott stages in recent years.
Michael Goodman, one of two headliners in "A Classic Country Christmas," said the show would take the audience back to Christmas get-togethers with friends and family - where songs and jokes easily intermingle.
"It's music mixed with a Christmas gathering," Goodman said, adding that he and fellow performer Kaci Bays strive to bring the audience in "as if they're family."
For Goodman, it's all about making the audience "tap their toes and forget the drama of life."
A native of Kentucky, Goodman has a deep connection with country singers such as Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. Some of his earliest holiday memories are of his grandfathering singing Gene Autry songs. "We would gather together at Christmas and sing," he remembers.
Lonely Street describes "A Classic Country Christmas" as having a "yuletide twang." Along with Goodman, the show will feature Kaci Bays, known as "The Sweetheart of Branson" for her years performing with Mickey Gilley in the Missouri entertainment hub.
The Dec. 18 country show will include classics made famous by Kenny Rogers, Faith Hill, Randy Travis, and Loretta Lynn, and will include songs such as "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Hard Candy Christmas," and "Christmas in Dixie."
Then, on Dec. 21, "A Swingin' Christmas" will feature another holiday genre, with tunes made popular by Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, Andy Williams, and Nat King Cole.
Crystal Stark, one of the featured performers said the show harkens back to the days of Christmas specials on television - with a spin. "It's all done in the swing style," she said.
While many of the tunes were "already pretty jazzy," Stark said the show would bring them to life on the stage. "It will definitely put you in the Christmas mood," she said.
The show will feature an all-star cast of four vocalists - including Stark, Matthew Chappell, Nicholas Gallardo, and Aimee Blau - and a six-piece swing band. Setting off the Christmas set will be a rainbow of festive costumes. Stark said she and Blau would switch from polka-dot swing dresses to Mrs. Santa Claus outfits to formal gowns.
Both of the shows are touring around Arizona during December, and Stark said she is happy that Prescott is among the stops.
"I'm really excited to be back at the Elks Theater," she said. "This show will look fantastic on that stage."
A University of Arizona graduate in music and a 2005 semi-finalist on American Idol, Stark has done a half-dozen shows with Lonely Street. "I sing it all - rock, big band swing, R&B," Stark said, noting that her interest in music dates back to her early childhood, when she sang along "in key" to Smokey Robinson.
The shows will begin at 7 p.m., Dec. 18 and 21. Tickets run from $22 (for seniors 65 and older) to $30 and are on sale online at prescottelkstheather.com, or from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, at the box office at 117 E. Gurley St. Tickets also will be available at the door prior to the shows, starting at 6 p.m. For more info, call 928-777-1366.