10 Years of Yuletide Affair

By Beacon Staff

One show is a beginning. Twice on stage is a solid effort. Three years is a trend and after four years it becomes familiar. But after a show stays on stage for 10 years, it becomes a tradition.

And that’s what has happened for Alpine Theatre Project’s Yuletide Affair, celebrating its 10th straight year with performances on Dec. 21 and 22, at 7 p.m. at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center.

The tradition began as a way to bookend one year while raising awareness about the next year’s theater season, ATP marketing and development director Luke Walrath said, but its popularity has turned it into a holiday tradition in Whitefish.

It’s an exceptionally busy time of year, he said, and the theater company wants to provide a place for its audience to laugh, reflect, relax and have fun.

“There’s a lot going on in the holiday season, but we wanted to offer a complement to what’s already happening,” Walrath said. “We try and format the evening where we walk the line between heartwarming and irreverent.”

As a revue show, Yuletide Affair is comprised of a series of skits, songs and other pieces of theater. Usually, the cast takes a few shots at themselves, as well as what’s going on in the city and the valley.

But along with the satire comes a warm holiday feeling expected from a Christmas show, Walrath said.

“We want everybody to have a good time,” Walrath said. “It’s slightly goofy, with a lot of satire.”

The audience also benefits from the know-how of the cast, which usually consists of ATP staple performers, including founding artists Walrath, Betsi Morrison and David Ackroyd.

Yuletide Affair is a company-created performance, Walrath said, making it a comfortable arrangement for the performers and the musicians.

“It’s kind of a family affair,” he said. “We bring back folks we’ve worked with over the years.”

This year, that includes Eric Michael Krop, of Broadway’s “Godspell;” Susan O’Dea, who performed in ATP’s “Hedwig & the Angry Inch;” Rebecca Spear, of ATP’s “Little Shop of Horrors;” Aaron Vega, of ATP’s “Godspell” and “Little Shop of Horrors;” and Virginia Woodruff, who performed in Broadway’s “The Color Purple” and “Smokey Joe’s Café.”

Previous performances also included Broadway performer Tracy McDowell, who was slated to be in this year’s Yuletide Affair but had to cancel at the last minute due to getting a role on stage in New York City, Walrath said.

However, that gave ATP the opportunity to bring a new performer in for the shows. Amelia Cormack, a New York-based artist who came to the U.S. after a successful career as a singer in Australia, will be part of the Yuletide Affair X performances.

Amelia Cormack, a New York-based artist | Contributed photo

“We’re really psyched to be working with her,” Walrath said.

Musicians for the show will include Rob Fahie on bass; Toby Ferguson on drums; Rob Mosher on the woodwinds; Billy Thompson on the piano; and Erica Von Kleist on the flute and saxophone.

Since the variety show is built in-house when it comes to writing up the skits and figuring out who will sing which song, the performers don’t usually get together for rehearsal until the week before the shows start.

Walrath said all of the actors made it to Whitefish on Dec. 12, and were planning on caroling for the Whitefish Holiday Stroll the following day.

There are still tickets available for both nights, Walrath said, but it seems to be trending toward a sold-out crowd.

Tickets are available at www.atpwhitefish.org or by calling 406-862-7469.

And as with a sold-out theater, Walrath expects this show to follow in previous shows’ footsteps when it comes to enjoyment.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.

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