Backstage Pass – Behind the Scenes of Cascade Christmas – Part 4

Cascade Christmas, produced by the Dance Project under the direction of James Santos, has become a part of the holiday tradition for many North State families.

Filmmaker Tom Ramont gives us a 5-part series of short films, an inside look at what it takes to create a production of this magnitude, and reveals that our holiday tradition is a labor of love for James Santos and his Dance Project team.

One hundred hours of rehearsals. Check. Dozens of meetings. Check. Fifty hours of rehearsal until opening, countless meetings to go, millions of details, tantrums, smiles, snow and a partridge in a pear tree. Not quite yet.

October has come and gone. I could not be more thankful. The month of October for me is one of the hardest. Marketing a show like this, all the deadlines come into play. It is also one of the most difficult times for putting the show together. Everything feels in shambles. We are dealing not only with teaching choreography but also with experimenting with new directions and trying to imagine what the audience will get or what will make them feel awkward. Sometimes we end up laughing at ourselves until we cry.

Because of the multiple hats I wear, I can get a bit worn out and impatient at this time and, yes, I have had a few meltdowns on the cast. Usually after one of them I go home struggling to find the balance between my director personality and my spiritual side. I do not usually spend very much time mixing the two at this point in the game. Hmmmm, maybe I should.

But this week has been phenomenal. The show is in the best shape it has ever been at this point, and most of us are feeling pretty good. But we move into the theatre next week. Two steps forward, two steps back. Bring it on!

– James Santos

This is the 4th part of a series. Here are links to parts 1,2 and 3.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

2nd Saturday ArtHop, Saturday, Nov. 14, at 5 p.m., U-Prep School, Shasta Learning Center, 2200 Eureka Way, Redding, CA.  The ArtHop kickoff also features a preview of U-Prep’s performance of “The Boy Friend” and an exhibit of artwork by U-Prep students, plus refreshments hosted by and HawkMan Studios.

Cascade Christmas opens Thanksgiving weekend for an eight-performance run.  For tickets, call the Cascade Theatre box office at (530) 243-8877 or visit

tom-ramontTom Ramont is a digital filmmaker who concentrates on producing documentaries and technical marketing films. He was inspired early on by the short films presented on Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, such as “How Crayons are Made.” Ramont creates simple films layered with humor and realism. He holds a B.A. in Cinema Studies and an M.A. in Creativity and Interdisciplinary Arts Education from San Francisco State University. Reach him at