OGDEN -- Just more than 200 young adults representing the Ogden LDS Institute of Religion at Weber State University will put on the annual Christmas show at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Val A. Browning Center. A matinee is also scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 7.
The annual Christmas show has been going for more than 50 years, but the show turned into a "spectacular" with acting, dancing and singing about 30 years ago, said show producer and director Alan Saunders. Saunders also is an Institute teacher.
The show includes performances by the Institute's three choirs and its folk dancers. One of the choirs is open for all to participate in, and two are audition-only choirs.
The show is different each year, Saunders said.
The costuming of the folk dancers is very intricate, and several international dances will be part of the production, said David Godfrey, folk dance director.
Saunders wrote and produced the show. He got his inspiration while reading a short, true story about a life-changing experience a woman had in a convalescent center.
As Saunders read the story he wanted to know more about it, so he did some research, contacting the story's author, Kathryn Wouden of Mantua, Utah.
Once Saunders heard the whole story of how one elderly man's love of music shaped the way Wouden raised her family with music, he was inspired to write the Institute show.
The group started practicing in September and now rehearses an average of 15 hours per week.
Many of those participating are full-time college students.
Saunders admits it is hard work, but says everyone really enjoys it.
"It's a labor of love," he said.
Many in the community use the spectacular as a kick-off to the Christmas season. The students also see it is an opportunity to reach out to their fellow students.
The show is packed with Christmas music, and the message is inspiring, Saunders said.
"We do it," he said, "because it makes us happy."
The underlying theme of the show is, "I sing because it makes me happy," Saunders said, referring to the old man who is one of the central characters in the show.
The show has actors and dancers who are mostly traditional college students, but some who are employees at the Institute. Saunders said the energy and enthusiasm of the performers is catching.
"We feel it's one of the best-kept secrets and wonders of Christmas in our area," he said.
The suggested donation for the show is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6-17 or $15 for a family. Young adults ages 18-30 get in free.
Student tickets must be picked up at the main office of the Institute by noon Dec. 6.
There is a family matinee discount price of $12.