The Christmas Extravaganza program notes for the combined Paradise Community/High School Choruses (at the Performing Arts Center), define a musical extravaganza as both episodic burlesque and lavish variety; I concurred with the former assessment. The booklet includes large block ads for 82 local advertisers (supporting the nonprofit volunteers).
The narrator, Ken Boone (not to be confused with Ken Burns or Pat Boone), resembled Orville Redenbacher. He urged our undying fealty to the sponsors. Twice he alluded to invisible program envelopes, for further contributions. Multiple plugs for the tuppered cookies, upcoming Nutcracker, and High School Follies followed. But, if we ate the cookies in-house, a muscle-bound monster would abduct the titillated biddy culprits. The raconteur’s jokes of careless seniors being thrown off planes and falling from helicopters, belied his earlier Christian sermonizing, wherein he decried Christmas materialism.
The tickets were $10.00 but I got in gratis; they inadvertently printed my phone number on 120 posters, and reneged on revising them.
The community part proffered jaunty, yet tepid mall jingles (what, no minor key Euro-dirges?) The bow-tied males were “stage right” [Snagglepuss], where the low-volume microphone thinned it all. The sharp/flat altos at the periphery, cancelled each other out. (Orville’s mike was initially dead).
During intermission, blue coiffed geriatrics spoke of Stephen Baldwin, Christian conferences, trips to Israel, a mass exodus to Texas (a better business climate), and their real estate deals. The lady behind me said “Mmmm Hmmm” after every onstage quip. The room was SRO, and totally white, like the Bing Crosby reference (I almost shouted, “HE TOKED WITH LOUIS ARMSTRONG!”)
Then came the Paradise High School Bobcats. Their director (manicured beard, square razored neckline) told a parable of the mountain folk (Paradise/Magalia) at loggerheads with valley denizens (Chico/Oroville), who destroyed them and stole their treasure, to introduce One Tin Soldier, from the film Billy Jack. The religious conservative vs. secular liberal inference, made me squirm. A 9th grader’s off-key violin and dissonant piano chords were the perfect touch. After a ten-minute plug for their 116-seat Christmas show on 12-12-12, came a boogied tribute to American Bandstand, with Motown choreography. The clean-teens were out of sync as well as step, an about face from Kyrie, a Latin liturgical lament.
After a few false curtains, the seniors returned, to form a “Super Chorus”, the men now center stage. During the litanous Sanctus, a masterful Basso caught my perked ear, Santa morphing into Andrew Weil.
Rather than the spirit of true Christmas, the show invoked true Americana: Fervent religious hypocrisy, blatant free enterprise, good grooming/housekeeping, rank commercialism, and inane humor.