December 17, 2011

Skating Club presents 'Holiday Extravaganza'


PLATTSBURGH — Saturday's "Holiday Extravaganza" is live, live, all the way live in the Plattsburgh State Field House.

Presented by the Skating Club of the Adirondacks, the real-time excitement features skaters twirling to holiday favorites sung by Benjamin Bright of "American Idol" fame and the Plattsburgh High School Select Vocal Ensemble. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be on hand.

Skating pro Gayle Roy Collin's small vision for the holiday show grew and grew until it became an hour long.

The club's spring show is always big.

"The whole show is live music for the 'Holiday Extravaganza,'" Collin said. "Benjamin Bright is singing. We have 12 numbers. He's singing nine of them. The Plattsburgh High School Select chorus is singing three of them. We have narration and commentary by Tom Messner."

The end-of-year show has become a community affair.

"We offer hot chocolate, cookies and a family skate-around at the end," Collin said. "We will have Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus there to entertain the children afterward."

It's been a unique experience for the skaters to learn their routines to live entertainers.

"We're skating to music they perform," Collin said. "I have to choreograph numbers to pieces they have together. It's been an experience."

In the three years Bright has worked with the club, he has learned to skate.

"It's been a wonderful collaboration," Collin said. "He has such artistry to bring to his music. It's kind of cool. He always laughs at me. He's singing everything from Justin Bieber to Alvin and the Chipmunks to 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland.'"

One of Bright's challenges is to find the right register. Some of the songs are for sopranos.

"I'm a tenor," he said. "One of the things I'm trying to do is make it sound nice, not singing for the crowd, but overall it's more about the skaters. I enjoy singing, and I sing at a lot of different venues and concerts in the area. These skaters have one or two opportunities a year to show their ability."

About Bieber, Bright respects his music and what he does.

"For a grown man, it's hard to pull it off," Bright said. "When I was in sixth or seventh grade, I could sing those notes, no problem. It's not my range. I love challenges like that."

The "Holiday Extravaganza" is more a celebration than a show.

"It's a quick show to bring together," Collin said. "We don't work on it as we do the spring show. We don't have extravagant costumes. It's a nice way to give back and enjoy the holiday season and allow the community to enjoy skating, kind of a North Country thing." Last year, the Plattsburgh High School Select Vocal Ensemble was asked to sing, but there was a scheduling conflict. Founded in 2002, the ensemble is comprised of 30 students who audition.

"It's a really exciting opportunity," said William Verity, director. "We never get a chance to do something where someone is doing something active while we are performing. Usually, audience members are listening while we perform. This is totally new for us."

The ensemble's challenge is to keep the tempo.

"If they go too fast or too slow, it will be difficult for the skaters to succeed in what they are doing," Verity said. "God forbid, we mess up. Then, we're really in trouble."

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