Much-anticipated Newburgh Community Concert back with new material

Several familiar faces will return for this year's Newburgh Christmas Concert, which will be held Saturday. File photo.

Adam Prudhomme
Beaver Staff

Mae Whalen couldn’t help but reflect back on the years as she sat down to write the script for the 39th annual Newburgh Community Concert, which hits the stage this Saturday with 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. show times.

Once again taking place at Newburgh Public School, the show has become a holiday tradition in the village as the amateur cast gets a chance to showcase their comedic skills and singing voices.

Whalen, who returns to direct the always highly anticipated variety show, is one of a handful of members who has had a hand in all previous 38 productions. She couldn’t help but chuckle as she remembered searching out Christmas albums and then later CDs for writing inspiration to now being in 2018 and writing a skit about emojis.

“There’s a few fun things that are going to be coming up for sure,” Whalen said of this year’s concert. “There will be a bit of a spoof on some of the political situations going on. A few of the kids stuff. We think maybe the Property Brothers might be showing up. Stuff like that as well as some of the traditional stuff as well.”

Whalen says they’ve always prided themselves on featuring something for all ages and this year will be no different. While some people may wonder what an emoji is, they’ll almost certainly relate to the cast’s comedic take on the classic game show Family Feud. Only in this case, it’s Bethlehem Feud.

“Most of the usual suspects are back, we have a cast of about 18,” said Whalen.

Once again three generations will be represented on stage as original cast members share scenes with their now adult children and their grandchildren. Some of the ‘second generation’ actors weren’t even born when the show debuted.

The show is sure to be filled with laughs as they poke fun at some of the biggest news events of the year, as well as putting their own twist on some of the biggest hit songs of 2018.

“It’s a mix and mingle of all sorts of different things and that’s part of the charm of it,” said Whalen.

Admission to the show is by donation and just like they always have done, the cast will take the money raised Saturday to go shopping for toys on Sunday. Those gifts will then be given to less fortunate children in the area.

“People are extremely generous to help us out,” said Whalen, noting last year they raised $18,000. “We always have lots of businesses who contribute both to Santa’s goodies and supporting us financially.”

“The focus is always about bringing people together,” said Whalen. “The amazing spin off that’s happened is we’re also able to take that money directly and apply it in a very tangible way by helping kids in our community.”

“When I think about 39 years ago, we never in a million years thought this would go for five years,” said Whalen. “I call it the Christmas miracle because if you ask me this week ‘are you ready?’ I’ll say ‘well, we’re in rehearsals’. But it’s that Christmas Miracle because the Saturday of the show, it always happens. We have as much fun as the audience.”

Newburgh Public School is located at 19 East St in Newburgh. Audiences attending the 3 p.m. show are encouraged to arrive early as the gym fills up quickly.

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