OGDEN -- Those behind the Ogden LDS Institute of Religion's Performing Arts 34th annual Christmas Spectacular set for Friday and next Saturday say it will be much more than a show.
Choir members and actors in the show, centered this year around the theme of Stories for Christmas, say their participation has changed their lives for the better and gives them an opportunity to share their testimony of Christ.
"It's something people can relate to because a family is getting ready for Christmas," said Jessica Love, who plays the mother, Ruth Clayton.
The show, set in the 1800s, is about a teenage daughter who at first does not feel the spirit of Christmas and how the family works to help her.
"We all have those moments when you are not in the Christmas spirit, whether it is because of work or school or whatever," Love said, noting how, throughout the show, the story of Christ is told in a way that gets the girl ready to celebrate his birth.
The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. next Saturday at the Weber State University Val A. Browning Center's, Austad Auditorium at 4400 Harrison Blvd.
Tickets are a suggested donation of $5 for adults, $4 for ages 60 and over, $3 for ages 6 to 17 and $15 for families.
Matinee prices are $12 for families.
Current Institute students 18 to 30 may pick up their free student ticket at the Institute office by noon Friday.
Special ticket donations for those with current military identification are $3 for adults and ages 60 and over, $2 for ages 6 to 17 and $10 for families.
"The father shares stories of Christ, how much we rely on him," said Ben Eden, who is president of the Institute's Choralaires Choir.
"It's a great reminder to people that stories of Christmas should really be about the real thing -- which is Christ."
This year's show features nearly 300 young adults from the Institute Chorale, Choralaires, and Folk Dancers in a show that highlights choral music, dancing, drama, small ensembles and soloists.
Traditional holiday favorites like "Still, Still, Still," "Silent Night," "Sing We Now of Christmas" and "Joy to the World" will be performed. The choirs will also sing some new selections: "He is Born," "Bethlehemtown" and "Christmastime."
"The folk dances are intricately choreographed and beautifully outfitted with authentic costumes from around the world," states a news release.
As part of a short 15-minute pre-show before each performance, the dancers will present a German quadrille.
In the show, the 26 dancers will favor audiences with dances from Bavaria, Ukraine and Hawaii. They also will perform their signature clog.
Chorale director Alan Saunders wrote the show's storyline based on the life of William Clayton, a close friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
"I think we all like great Christmas stories that invite the Spirit of Christmas and the spirit of Christ into our lives," Saunders said.
Choralaires choir member Emilie Knecht said she likes how the program is set more than 150 years ago.
"We are here to worship Heavenly Father," she said. "He is the same no matter what era."
Edward Poston, another Choralaire, said organizers have made a special effort to invite people of all faiths to attend.
"We're hoping to bring down those barriers," he said. "A lot of times, the thing we have in common pulls us apart -- that is Jesus Christ. It shouldn't be that way."
Choralaires member Sam Howe said he hopes to share the spirit that the choir has brought into his life through the music to be shared at the event.
"It's been a really great blessing for me in my life," he said. "I feel invigorated when I sing. ... It has reawakened something in me."
Choralaires member Chantel Carter said she has been coming to the Institute's Christmas shows ever since she was born.
"It brings in a lot of the spirit," she said of the choir and the show. "It's so dominant here when it can be harder to get in other places."
For more information, visit the Institute's website at www.ldsces.org/ogden or call the Institute office at 801-621-1800.