Sinatra and Company returns with new take on holiday classics

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 17, 2017

According to the Sinatra and Company singers, their upcoming holiday show will feel a little like Vegas, a little like Broadway and a lot like Sinatra.

“I actually think it’s the best show that I’ve put together,” singer and show organizer Colleen Raye said.

She has been working on this year’s Sinatra and Company’s “That Holiday Feeling” show since April.

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“It’s a brand-new show for us,” Raye said.

The group’s musical director, Todd Matheson, said the performance will feature a variety of different musical styles.

Musical director Todd Matheson rearranged some of the show’s music to fit a ten-piece band rather than the larger number that is more typical of a big band. Provided

“There’s a lot of big band stuff, but there’s also some Latin stuff, there’s a polka, there’s some ballads, there’s a gospel-type of stuff, there’s some pop stuff,” Matheson said. “It isn’t one style throughout the whole thing and it’s certainly not a show where you play traditional Christmas carols and sing along with it. This is more like a Broadway show.”

The show will feature 24 songs in two acts and will also include some trivia and humor. While much of the music will be recognizable, Raye said the group has done some tweaking as they prepared.

Some of the changes were required by the size of the group’s ensemble, which Matheson said is referred to as a little big band. It’s a 10-piece group called The Blue Eyes.

“It’s a big band style musically or potentially, but just a more streamlined thing,” he said.

The arrangements the group was able to find were often made for larger groups of 16.

“You just can’t find stock arrangements for 10-piece bands very easily,” Raye said.

Therefore, it became Matheson’s task.

According to Raye, he is also responsible for translating the feeling she wants into the piece. Sometimes, that means mixing up style components from other musical artists. For “Holly Jolly Christmas,” for example, Raye wanted a Dixieland style while singer Tim Patrick sings it like Michael Buble would.

“Basically, our musical director has to start from scratch just by listening to our arrangements in two different things and my ideas and putting them to life,” Raye said. “That takes time, and he did a fantastic job.”

She did a similar thing for “The Little Drummer Boy.”

“I listened to, you know, I don’t know how many people’s versions of ‘Drummer Boy,’” Raye said.

The show is diverging slightly from Sinatra’s repertoire, too, in some of their song choices. Raye said the pieces still fit into the feel of the show. This includes pieces like “Mary Did You Know” and “Hallelujah.”

“They would have sung it,” she said. “It’s all music they would have done for sure. It’s in their realm.”

But it also includes pieces Raye has put her own hand to, including the first season the group will be performing a Christmas version of the big band piece, “Sing, Sing, Sing” written by Raye. She also wrote a Christmas verse for “Hallelujah.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” Raye said. “So we have these moments where it’s really touching, but it has so much fun so people get involved in it. It’s not just a concert you watch. It’s a concert you’re involved in. Because that’s what we want — we want it to feel like we’re all there having a party.”

Furthermore, Raye said she wants the theater to become a haven for people from their outside lives, to be a place where they can come and find the Christmas spirit.

“I want them to walk out there, when they walk out, and say it every time: ‘I am in the Christmas spirit now. This has helped me.’”

According to Patrick, the group is pulling out all the stops to get there.

“It’s a big production,” Patrick said. “It’s got a big sound, big voices — we take up the whole stage. We’re not going to hold anything back.”

Tickets, please

Who: Sinatra and Company

What: “That Holiday Feeling”

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 22

Where: The Marion Ross Performing Arts Center

How much: $23. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 877-730-3144 or at the door the night of the show.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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