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Theatre company preparing for ‘Christmas Through the Years’

by January Riddle
Special to The R-C
Norris Edson

Norris Edson is juggling a few quandaries, and each of them would make any musical director envious. An abundance of local talent from which to cast, a song list that keeps growing as new tunes come his way, a cozy venue that tends to sell out, a local audience following that boasts a mailing list of hundreds: yes, he’s dealing with all those happy conditions.

Meanwhile, he’s writing, uh, creating, Carson Valley Community Theatre’s next production of the cabaret series, “Christmas Through the Years.”

“It’s a focus on Christmas songs over the years,” he explains. But which songs? “I’m trying to use songs near the top of the charts, but a different list of top or top selling. It’s a bit subjective.” Before the cast auditions in October, he had chosen 30 or so that he thought would fit the playbill. “But then I asked the cast if they had any additions, and they added some.”

One of them, “Step Into Christmas,” an Elton John tune that Norris hadn’t heard before, became the opening number. Another cast suggestion, “Joseph’s Lullaby,” captured his heart. Then, there was yet another new-to-him melody, “Underneath the Tree” that just fit the voice of another cast member.

The playlist expanded so much, to 37, it had to be whittled down to a manageable 25 to 30. Not to worry, though, there will be some classics, favorites such as the dreamy “White Christmas” and the longing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and the plaintive “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” and the pensive “The Little Drummer Boy.”

That last one just could be a personal choice by the former drummer, a New Hampshire transplant who landed here in 2003 by way of the San Francisco Bay Area. Since then, Norris and his wife, Margaret Edson, “Christmas Through the Years” producer, have become known around the valley, and vice-versa. “CVCT has developed a following, and I see many of the same people at various productions,” he said.

Those frequent patrons will, in turn, see some familiar performers. Pianist Rodger Banes will be the evening’s accompanist, and Tori Polly, Ann Delahay, and Brianna Radke, favorites from September’s “Lullaby of Broadway,” will bring their voices to this same stage. Some new performers — such as Marsh Brodeur — add to the overall harmony. Rounding out the talented cast are Cedric Williams, Robert Miller, Krista Jenkins, and Lisa Bommarito. All of them together solved Norris’ most difficult challenge, “casting,” he says, “because there is too much talent around here, not too little. It is hard to choose.”

A major factor in making those choices from among all those excellent vocals, he says, is what else a singer brings to the mix. “The best performers are good storytellers,” he explains. “It’s about feeling the music, relating to the story and conveying it to the audience.”

Audience members will benefit from the results of Norris’ happy dilemmas will get an evening of great entertainment, he promises. “There will be songs they enjoy, but not all of them that they know, and songs they both know and like.” Now that’s a holiday present we’ll look forward to opening.

Christmas Through the Years plays Dec. 27 through Dec. 29 in The Annex, 1572 Highway 395 in Minden. Evening shows on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. For tickets, showtix4u.com