Branson, Missouri…Silver Dollar City celebrates a Heartland Christmas like no other with more than one million lights in the square, an 80,000 light Holiday Light Parade and their unique, truly Broadway Quality production of “A Dicken’s Christmas Carol.”
It was an unexpected burst of Holiday Joy!
Using a knife tool, master craftsmen like Pam Greshman, chip away turning blocks of wood into beautifully sculpted carousel horses, intricate mantelpieces and house wares, such as lamps and decorative boxes.
Our winter day was gleefully spent riding the rollercoaster’s, such as The American Plunge, with is steep 50-foot drop or the Wildfire, reaching speeds up to 66 mph, and the PowderKeg, which uses a compressed air-launch to blasts riders to speeds in excess of 50 mph in 2.8 seconds before taking riders on a 64mph ride through negative gravitational loops and “floater” hills.
These are all really great roller coasters.
There were plenty of fun attractions, including visiting the fun house, Grandfather’s Mansion, traveling around the park on the Frisco Silver Dollar for a ride through the Ozark Mountain countryside and stopping over at The Wilderness Church for a Christmas Celebration of familiar hymns.
Silver Dollar features over sixty different shops, from hand fashioned glassware at Hazel’s Blown & Cut Glass Factory to hand created chocolates at Brown’s Candy Factory, it is just past Christmas Hollow, where the holiday is celebrated all year long, that visitors find “A Dicken’s of A Christmas Carol.”
The bright lights of the Broadway caliber show are an unexpected surprise. This hour long musical, in its seventh year of production, brings the classic tale to life, with a few modern embellishments such as their retooling of the song “He’s A Mean One.”
“Dwight Jordan is the director and he and Brad Schroeder decided to bring the Dicken’s story to Silver Dollar City,” said Mike Hefley, stage manager. “The story fits with Silver Dollar City as to a place in time, being that the park is themed to the 1880s and the Dickens’ wrote the piece in the mid-1800s.”
Performing five shows a day requires the production run with a “cast-and-a-half” with the actors rotating roles. Shows begin in early November running through the end of December.
Performers are from in and around the Branson area – a music rich environment where children begin signing at an early age.
David Wallace, of Joplin Missouri, took on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge for his third year, coming to Silver Dollar City from one of the large theater productions in Branson.
As all the cast, Wallace’s performance was very strong as he wore the mantle of a disgruntled man given a chance to change his ways before a lonely death.
A showstopper was Lindsey Perenchio who has been with the production for the last four years. Vocal training and natural comedic style come through in her performances as both the whimsical Ghost of Christmas Present and the soulful graveyard angle.
Her rendition of Goudnod’s Ava Maria was breathtakingly beautiful. The set, using a scrim, or transparent, curtain to blur the stark reality and fog to provide an eerie, otherworld effect that served to heighten the beauty of the song and Ms. Perenchio’s operatic solo sung while Scrooge stands with the enormity of his life’s actions weighing on his shoulders.The casts’ youngest performer is homeschooled Anna Epps. Anna appears with a young Scrooge in a back-story moment that shows a young lad left disillusioned by an uncaring father.
Anna then steps forward as Tiny Tim and the robed choirboy that Scrooge beseeches to “pray for him.”
This is Anna’s first professional production and I would be very surprised if we did not hear more from her over the coming years.
With plenty of talent on stage, the show is quickly paced and quite remarkable, however taking it over the proverbial top is the set staging and effects that include a flying Bob Marley that hovers ominously over the crowd; the aforementioned Ghost of Christmas Present who sweeps in from stage left, and the ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Future that both regally, almost magically appear on stage.
With dusk, Silver Dollar Cities’ lights come on.
In the trees, Snowflakes twinkle. Every railing, windowpane and tree shines with bright lights creating multi-hued holiday glow.
The Town Square’s five-story special effect Christmas tree comes to life with lights synchronized to Holiday music, changing colors and light patterns – up to 100 light changes per second – during a fifteen-minute presentation that begins with a voice announcer reminding guests that at the heart of Christmas is Christ.
Following the Christmas Tree lighting is the nightly “Holiday Light Parade” featuring glowing toy soldiers and gingerbread men, a living nativity scene with angel and Santa Claus, piloting a sleigh pulled by reindeer.
Silver Dollar City offers many reminders that we are in America’s heartland where family and Christian values are embraced.
There are plenty of non-secular appearances of Santa Claus throughout, but here Christmas is first about celebrating family through Christ’ birth.
Which made our pre-holiday Midwestern journey all the more special as the message of peace and love shines a bit brighter than the more commercial aspects of the holiday one encounters elsewhere.
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