Crescent City Sound Chorus is not your average chorus. So it’s not surprising that its annual Christmas performance at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at St. Martin’s Episcopal School Solomon Theatre in Metairie will not be your average holiday show.
For instance, what other holiday show offers singing aliens? Just one — “We Need A Little Christmas Cher!” — featuring former TV news anchor Margaret Dubuisson.
“The show is about two children writing letters to Santa, but they’re not asking for toys, they’re asking all sorts of other questions,” explains the show’s writer, Kitty Warner, president of Crescent City Sound.
While Dubuisson acts as “Santa’s helper” to answer questions ranging from “how good do you have to be?” to the “reason for the season,” the answers lead into a wide variety of musical performances from the 48-member a capella women’s chorus.
“We are a Sweet Adeline chorus,” Warner said. “Basically that means we sing in the style of a barbershop quartet, only with women. It’s a four-part close harmony with no musical accompaniment.”
In addition to the jaunty holiday favorites and stirring spirituals they’ve been rehearsing for three hours a week since May, the show will include a few surprises, like visits from Tulane singers “Green Envy” and the Chalmette High Jazz Band.
There also will be a time when the women don antennae and sing as aliens.
“You wouldn’t think it would fit, but you’d be amazed what you can do with a dream sequence,” Warner said.
It is this willingness to get a little goofy that has helped set Crescent City Sound apart from the crowd since the group’s inception in 2004.
“Spangles, sequins, satin — that’s what the other choruses wear, but we don’t do that,” Warner said, noting that the group has performed in everything from bee costumes to hospital gowns complete with fake IV poles and walkers. “Our songs are all parodies,” she said. “We like to have fun with the lyrics — even make people gasp occasionally.”
“Nobody has more fun than we do,” Grass adds.
Holidays are the busiest time of the year for the chorus, which performs everywhere from the PRC Tour of Homes, to the Poydras House, to the Northshore Newcomers Club.
The group will even be welcoming Santa from noon to 3 p.m. at the Clearview Mall.
The chorus’ 48 members hail from all walks of life — ranging in age from 22 to 86. Members travel to Delgado Community College once a week for practice from as far as Zachary; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Grand Isle; and Baton Rouge.
Rebecca Emel is one of the youngest members of the group. The 24-year-old Pennsylvania native joined last year when she was still a newcomer to New Orleans.
“This has truly become a home away from home for me,” she said. “Everyone here is so friendly, and now I’m getting the harmony I missed from my high school days in the chorus.”
Emel will be showing off another of her skills, juggling, during the show, while 82-year-old New Orleans native Sally Gagnon will have a chance to play the ukulele.
“My aunts were young women in the ’20s, and it was the thing to do back then, so they taught me to play when I was a little girl,” she said.
Ukuleles, juggling, a jazz band, aliens — it’s a holiday show perfectly suited for the Crescent City.
“I’m excited,” Warner says. “I think it’s going to be our best show yet.”