Gather around a hot stage this holiday season

Leahy hits the stage at the Centre for the Arts for two shows in December.

Leahy hits the stage at the Centre for the Arts for two shows in December.

When Leahy takes to the Centre for the Arts stage in December, it will be much like coming home.

The perennial favourite performing siblings will host their Family Christmas, an homage to the holidays with some of the group’s folk hits thrown into the mix, during a sold out evening performance on Thursday, Dec. 20 and a matinee on Friday, Dec. 21.

Coming back to Niagara was an easy sell for Leahy – something that just felt like being at home, where, as children, the band often sang and performed for guests, pianist Erin Leahy said.

“The theatre is itself unique in the way it’s designed. No. 1, it feels as though we are all in one living room so it’s a very natural setting for us because we’re one family and grew up playing music right beside each other,” she said.

This year’s shows will have a distinctly family feel for another reason. Children will be part of the program that, in addition to festive tunes and the band’s own standards, will include new music from a CD currently in the works.

“We like to show what a true Christmas is to us and that involves children, and the scene will be very much like it is at home,” Leahy said.

John McDermott is another performer who feels at home on the Centre for the Arts stage. This gold-and-platinum-selling artist said for over twenty years, Niagara has always offered him a warm welcome.

“You don’t take loyalty lightly,” McDermott said. In return, he promises a performance different than previous years’ offerings when he takes the stage on Dec. 9.

Soulful Messiah comes to Brock in time for the holidays.

Soulful Messiah comes to Brock in time for the holidays.

He’ll be bringing his band comprised of Jason Fowler (Guitar), George Koller (Bass) and Gary Craig (Drums) plus special guest and “wonderful storyteller” Michael Peter Smith, who penned one of McDermott’s favourite songs to sing “The Dutchman.”

“It won’t necessarily be all Christmas. It’ll be stories… stories that relate to songs themselves,” McDermott promised.

Fans will also be treated to McDermott performing selections from a new Christmas album, with pieces written between 1550 and 1800. These Polish and Welsh classics feature the piano, cello, harp and clarinet. “Some are familiar and some aren’t,” he said. That goes for some of the performers on this year’s holiday roster, too.

Toronto’s Ballet Creole brings its moves and mix of Caribbean, African, blues, jazz and soul sounds in Soulful Messiah.on Friday, Dec. 7.

It’s a modern and moving take on the Handel classic that has been transformed into a dynamic 70-minute performance to the R&B sounds of a Qunicy Jones-produced soundtrack, featuring the voices of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight.

“It’s based on a language of music taken from Handel’s Messiah in a really funky way. We’ve changed Handel’s Messiah into a pop, soulful expression,” said Patrick Parson, Ballet Creole’s artistic director and choreographer. “It’s kind of a curry expression of Handel’s Messiah.”

It’s also one that will feature a Niagara connection. Niagara native David Cox, formerly of STOMP, will be a guest tap dancer in Soulful Messiah.

Sex and the City fans may want to don their Manolo Blahniks to tap their toes when New York City’s The Klezmatics come to town Thursday, Dec. 13.

The Klezmatics are sure to get your toes tapping with their Klezmer music.

The Klezmatics are sure to get your toes tapping with their Klezmer music.

Famous for their lively and colourful Eastern European Jewish tunes that have earned them a Grammy Award and a spot on the popular TV series about the quartet of New York singles, The Klezmatics promise a thrilling, worldly and harmonious start to the holiday season.

If you’re not familiar with the rhythms and harmonies of klezmer music, it resembles jazz in its inventiveness, folk in its deep roots and dance music in its celebratory tone.

The Klezmatics are the klezmer band. The Wall Street Journal asserts that “The Klezmatics have owned klezmer and Yiddish music for the past 25 years.”

Their music is timeless. So no need to worry if those designer pumps are last season.

All tickets are on sale now from the Centre for the Arts Box Office or online.

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