By Jessica Lovell
Last year, only about 250 people had the chance to see Andrew Craig’s Gospel Christmas concert in Guelph; this year, many more than that have already purchased their tickets for the show at its new venue.
Featuring the Faith Chorale, special guests Alana Bridgewater, Kellylee Evans, Toya Alexis and Chris Lowe, the show hits the main stage at the River Run Centre for the first time on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
“We’re been presenting it with slight variations for seven years now,” says musician and CBC Radio host Andrew Craig, a Guelph local. The show was originally intended to be a one-off project for CBC Radio, but its success saw it turned into a CBC television special, and it become an annual event in Toronto.
For years, Craig had been trying to book the show into the River Run Centre, but with no success. So last year, he decided to bring it to Guelph in another venue – the 250-seat Guelph Little Theatre. He invited the mayor and the city’s arts, culture and entertainment general manager, Colleen Clack, to the show.
“By the fifth song, Colleen turned to the mayor and said, ‘River Run next year?’,” says Craig, relaying the story of how he convinced them to book the show into the 785-seat venue.
“It’s a win in terms of the ongoing effort to have as much local programming in the centre as possible.”
As far as what the audience can expect from the show this year, Craig promises he’s not messing with a good thing.
“Experience has taught us that people don’t want us to mess with the formula too much,” he says.
“Nobody expects Silent Night to be different every year; we come back because we love these things,” he adds.
Holiday standards like Silent Nights, Little Drummer Boy, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen will be interpreted in Gospel-style, but the audience can also expect to hear a few different tunes – like the South African Zulu Carol, and the Canadian Huron Carol – performed by talented musicians and vocalists.
“We’re bringing back these very extraordinary vocalists who don’t pass through Guelph very often,” Craig says. “There is no other Christmas show in Canada that is like this one.”
This year, Guelph is the place to see this show, as a festival at the usual Toronto venue means the show won’t go on in the big city.
For tickets call the River Run box office, 519-763-3000 or riverrun.ca.