NEW MADRID - "You Got to Have Heart"
"Love Makes the World Go Round"
These aren't your typical Christmas carols.
But after an evening at the New Madrid County Central High School's Holiday Dinner Theater, the student performers and their director believe the audience will be humming these tunes right along with their other holiday favorites. It will be a blend of Broadway and Christmas music featured Dec. 14 and 15 for the dinner theater production, "Heart of Christmas."
And it really isn't much of a stretch to think of the Broadway tunes as part of the holiday, said Judy Henry, director. "I spent the summer researching holiday music," she explained. "I came across the song 'Heart of Christmas' and used that to build on the ideas of love, gift giving, sharing, family ...."
All the songs the Singing Eagles, Henry's select male and female choral group, and the school's new musical theater class, the Eighth Note Company, will center on the theme.
In the past the singers at Central have presented a Christmas madrigal every other December, drawing a full house for their performances. This change has brought new challenges welcomed by the young entertainers.
"It is like a madrigal, only modernized," explained Hunter Hendrix, a senior. "I think the audience will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of music and the variety."
Hunter and the other members of the Eighth Note Company are responsible for the Broadway production numbers. Under Henry's direction the members of the class researched the musicals behind their selected songs. They developed dialogue to introduce the songs and lead from one Broadway production tune to the next.
"It isn't easy to sum up an entire play into a page of dialogue," observed Hunter, who also serves as the evening's master of ceremony.
But they have done it, added their teacher. There will be 11 Broadway musicals featuring Hendrix and fellow seniors Dora Bost, Lindsey Campbell, Courtney Dusky, Leslie Russell, Jake Beaher, Billy Gilliland and Jason McDonald.
These students will be joined by 39 other sophomores, juniors and seniors who make up the Singing Eagles. The Singing Eagles will be featured as the dinner theater begins and ends performing more traditional Christmas fare.
"I think (the audience) will be very entertained because the students will sing, dance and act and we feed them," said Henry with a laugh.
In between the music the audience has a full meal. The catered buffet dinner includes two meats, vegetables, salad and a dessert which is served in the high school commons area.
Henry noted the commons, with its crystal chandeliers, the candlelight at the tables and the scenery the musicians are designing for the evening will add to the atmosphere.
"We wanted to make a dreamy winter wonderland feeling," she said.
The students will wear formal attire to complete the feeling of an evening out-on-the-town.
Obviously proud of her students, Henry said the performances will give the public an opportunity to see the talent and the hard work they have put in on the program. Practice began early this school year and continues daily as they rehearse their songs and choreograph their moves.
"And we have so much fun together. I look forward to my Singing Eagles and the music theater classes. They are so creative and so willing to work," she said.
And while it has been work, the students agreed the public should enjoy their presentation.
"They should come see us," said Hendrix. "It is always a risk to check out something different but I think this will be something that will continue on."
Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 and 5 p.m. Dec. 15. Tickets for the dinner theater production, which will last about an hour and half, are $15 each and are available at the New Madrid County High School Central Office.