Wonderful Holiday

Brazoswood Choir Members


'Wonderful Holiday' to benefit Youth Home

Greg Essington
Will Hearn

College students Will Hearn and Greg Essington want to make their hometown a little like Bedford Falls — quaint and just a little bit old-fashioned.

That’s why this musical duo is bringing back by popular demand their holiday variety show that debuted last year at the Brazosport Center for the Arts and Sciences.

Their show, “It’s a Wonderful Holiday,” which plays off the Christmas movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” is running Saturday and Sunday at the Center, 400 College Drive in Clute.

Profits from this year’s show, like last year’s, will benefit the Brazoria County Youth Home.
Last year while seniors in high school, the pair decided on a lark over Thanksgiving break to produce a musical variety show a la Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

“I’m a sentimental Christmas sap, and I’ve always been a big fan of Bing Crosby’s Christmas,” said Hearn, a music freshman at Texas State University. “It just struck me those aren’t around anymore.”

These childhood friends have long shared their musical ambitions and tastes. They sang together for four years in the Brazoswood High School choir. On their own, they decided to sing at area nursing homes. Their first collaboration dates back to the sixth grade, when they played a piano duet.

So, it was only natural that the duo would move on to the next level and produce their own show. The two had always kicked around the idea of a Christmas show, but decided to put the idea into action last year, said Essington, a music technology freshman at New York University.

“I think our goal is to bring back the more traditional styles of Christmas genres, not so much the new pop versions of carols,” he said.

The pair immediately set to work, writing skits and dialogue, selecting holiday classics to include in the program. There were few obstacles that lay in their way.

Finding performers? Simple. They recruited their friends.

Getting an audience? Simple. They sold tickets to their friends and their friends’ friends.

Before they knew it, the producers had a smash hit on their hands. Ticket sales completely exceeded their expectations, and the show sold out a week before the performance.

During the one-night only show, the audience roared with laughter at acts like a trio of boys lip-synching to Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Another popular number was “I Want a Hippo-potamus for Christmas.” It featured a teenage girl dressed in a red velvet dress and white tights lip-synching the song while a football player dressed in a tutu and danced around her.

“It still makes me laugh,” Hearn said.

The show’s success astounded its producers, who put on the show just to have a good time for a good cause. Profits from last year’s show, as well as this year’s, benefit the Brazoria County Youth Home.

“When we got out of the show, it was just so well received. We thought people were expecting a six performance and they got about a 12,” Hearn said. “People were on their feet screaming before the show was over. They just clapped forever.”

Their smash hit convinced its producers to bring the show back in spite of logistical challenges they’ve faced. This year, Hearn and Essington are in different states, away at college.

Couple that with trying to plan a show in another city, with 50 performers scattered geographically, all in the midst of finals, and it makes for a little bit of chaos. But the show’s producers are confident everything will magically fall into place like it did the year before.

“Will and I definitely have faith that it will work out again,” Essington said.

But with earlier planning, a year of planning under their belts and the marvelous invention of e-mail, pieces are falling into place.

Some of the numbers will be the same, like “O Holy Night” and Essington’s piano number of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” And the show wouldn’t be complete without the finale carol sing-a-long, Hearn said.

The producers hope to raise $5,000 to benefit the youth home. As part of that, they’re offering membership to the holiday club, where people can get special packages for $125 or $250.

Regular admission tickets cost $7 and can be purchased by calling Kerry Giese at (979) 238-4588 or (281) 485-2267. You can also e-mail KLGiese(at)Dow.com.

By Bridie Isensee
The Facts
Published December 15, 2004