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‘A Cascade Christmas’ Conversation

It’s the sixth year of “A Cascade Christmas,” the dance and singing extravaganza that’s become holiday tradition in the north state. The show opens at 3 and 7 p.m. Friday at the Cascade Theatre in Redding. It continues at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 3); 8 p.m. Friday (Dec. 4); and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 5). Tickets are $15-$25, call 243-8877 or visit the Cascade’s website .

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James Santos

The show’s director and choreographer James Santos (also one of the primary performers), took a few minutes from his busy schedule to chat with A News Café about the upcoming show. How busy is his schedule? He and his family celebrated Thanksgiving two weeks ago so that it wouldn’t be such a huge distraction this week, the day before the show opens.

For more information, visit the Dance Project’s website .

Jim Dyar : One thing that’s been established about “A Cascade Christmas” is that audiences continue to return to see it year after year. Has does this make you feel?

James Santos : It gives us a boost of confidence, for sure. Also, with that reassurance it keeps us on our toes. We know we can’t get too relaxed. But it feels like a lot of love, and what person wouldn’t want that reassurance that we’re getting from our community? After six years, yeah, we believe it’s getting better and that they should keep coming back. We try to do different things each year and that’s true this year — we’ve got some new numbers and some new (large costumed) animals. But even the stuff we’ve done before, I just think it’s getting better. The quality is better.

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“A Cascade Christmas” photos courtesy Michael Burke Photography

Dyar : So what is new this year?

Santos : Well, we have a big island Christmas section that’s new. It’s kind of our tribute to Christmas in Hawaii, Rio and the West Indies. We sort of take the audience on a little trip. The other thing is our lighting designer (Lewis Hudson), who came here for the spring show, has a new, awesome light design for the show. Also this year the singers have a whole new contribution. In the past, they’ve sort of been used as transitional pieces, but this year they’re more integrated into the show. I think people will notice more material. There’s not a storyline and it’s a little bit longer this year, but it moves more quickly.

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Dyar : Are you still enjoying this as much as when you started?

Santos : This year I’m probably enjoying it more than ever. It feels like I’m getting more help with things. I’m older, too, and I feel more at ease than I have in a long time. We’ve got a great relationship with the theater. Six years is not that long (for our company). We’re still learning about each other and we’re still new. But it feels like we’re growing up.

Dyar : Do you do all the choreography for this show?

Santos : I do. In the spring, I will have guest choreographers, but I’m a little territorial about this show. I enjoy it being my thing. It seems like every two years I kind of rework it. I get a whole new burst of energy every two years or so. But, who knows, maybe next year I’ll completely rework it again.

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Dyar : What are you excited about this year?

Santos : I’m excited about the lights, they’re cool. Also, I love to watch the female numbers. I’ve probably pushed the women (dancers) beyond what I’ve done in the past in terms of the ensembles. We always stress the dance quality and the lines, but people are just getting more comfortable.

Dyar : I’ve heard ticket sales are ahead of where they were last year at this time?

Santos : They are. And I know people like to sit close, but I want to mention that this show is designed for the entire theater. There’s really not a bad seat in the theater for this show. Even in the back row of the balcony, you can see the lines really well. So if people were worried about being too far back, they shouldn’t be. There are lots of good seats in the balcony.

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Dyar : Do you ever step back and go, “Wow, we’ve really created something special here”? This has turned into a big deal in the area.

Santos : You try to make a big hoopla (about the show), but when you’re engulfed in it, you can’t really see that. You want people to remember how fun the experience was. It’s one show out of the whole year, three weeks out of the whole year, but it takes a lot of time to maintain that energy. There are moments of that (stepping back), but, really, we’re just so appreciative that people are enjoying the show.

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Jim Dyar

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com

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