Everyone’s favourite holiday variety show, the Community Christmas Concert, will return to the Newburgh Public School stage for a 44th-and final-time on Dec. 9.
The lovable cast of misfits are preparing for two final shows-one at 3 p.m., the other at 7 p.m. As always all they ask in return for two hours of hilarious holiday entertainment is a donation which will go towards providing toys for kids in need this holiday season.
“It’s pretty phenomenal to be in this position,” said Mae Whalen, who has directed all previous 43 shows and returns for the final edition. “A little bit different flavour for us this year. We’ve come to the decision that this will be our final concert. After 44 years we’re kinda thinking it’s time. The older cast are getting older and the younger cast have very full and busy lives. We just felt that this was the right time.”
Though there may be a few tears shed at the thought of this year being the end of an era, there’s sure to be plenty of chuckles as well.
“It’s following very much the same pattern that we’ve always had,” said Whalen. “Almost 90 per cent of it is originally written. People will see what they always see. Lots of singing, there’s lots of comedy this year. We always have the nativity and maybe one other kind of serious thing, besides that there’s always a lot of laughs. I think people will always enjoy it. Of course the guys will show back up and we’ll see what kind of outfits they’ll be wearing this year. A lot of the same kind of thing, part of the fun of it is because it’s originally written, these aren’t skits you’ll see anywhere else. They don’t come from a book and they don’t come from the internet. They come from us.”
Donations can be made at the door or in advance at McCormick’s Store in Camden East, Gray’s IDA in Napanee or Devon’s Cafe in Tamworth. Etransfer is always available at Thecommunitychristmasconcert@gmail.com. Every single dollar donated will go towards purchasing toys for kids this holiday season. The cast works closely with local schools and community groups such as Interval House and Community Living to ensure the toys get to those who need them most. Last year was a banner year for donations with $36,000 raised, allowing them to assist 260 local kids.
“One of the things that’s always touched our hearts is that we have had many of those folks over the years who have come back to us with notes and letters or sometimes come up to us at concerts and say what an impact it has had because at one point they were one of the kids receiving gifts from the Christmas concert,” said Whalen. “When they’re able to come back and do that themselves, it’s a very touching thing to see how generations, very much like the cast of the Christmas concert, there are generations of families and folks who have actually been able to benefit from our silly little concert that we put on every year.”
Those that can’t make either the 3 p.m. or 7 p.m. show will have the chance to watch online the next day at www.woodcreativegroup.com/ccc-2023.
“For 44 years I’ve never known Christmas without the concert,” added Whalen. “And certainly my kids, and for many of our cast members, they now have grandkids who have been in the concert for a number of years. For the cast particularly it will be a big change for us because I’m used to starting in the end of September and winding up the concert about the third week of December. It’s a pretty intricate part of those fall months for all of us.”
Whalen is hopeful something will take its place for next December, carrying on the tradition of helping those less fortunate.
“There might be a different version or way next fall that folks decide to contribute in a similar fashion,” she said. “For intents and purposes, we think the traditional presentation of the concert will finish this year.”