Heaven Must Have Sent Them

Long before kids had actor Will Ferrell stuffed into yellow elf tights and pointed booties to laugh at, my brother, sister and I amused ourselves for hours on end dancing around the Christmas tree lip-synching to a cassette of kooky Christmas classics. My personal favorite was always "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

"Grandma got run over by a reindeer.
Walking home from our house Christmas Eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

She'd been drinking too much eggnog
And we begged her not to go..."

"It's just such a fun song," agrees Joan Staples, director of The Honky Tonk Angels Holiday Spectacular, which opens this week at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. "It makes me laugh so hard I cry."

Featuring "Grandma Got Run Over" and more than forty other well-known ditties, including "Rock Around the Christmas Tree," "Coat of Many Colors," "Burning Love," "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "Auld Lang Syne," The Holiday Spectacular is a country Christmas extravaganza that's a good tonic for even the crankiest Scrooge.

"It's a really lighthearted show," says Staples. "Everyone has seen A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker a dozen times. This is something new, like a breath of fresh air."

The Holiday Spectacular is the story of four girlfriends who call themselves angels and get together to put on a little holiday show at their local bar, the Hillbilly Heaven Club.

"For these gals, this night is their big time to shine," explains Staples. "I think the thing that makes this show work is that the characters really let you peek inside their personalities, and what you see is very touching."

Created by Ted Swindley, who also gave us Always...Patsy Cline, The Holiday Spectacular is a followup to The Honky Tonk Angels, which played at the Arvada Center earlier this month. The all-female comedic cast features returning angels Beth Flynn, Marya Grandy and Leslie Goddard, along with newcomer Andi Hopkins as a gospel-singing, Motown-bred manicurist who joins the ladies at the last minute to help out.

"The first show was a huge success for us; it had a buzz about it from the day it opened," says Arvada Center spokeswoman Valerie Hamlin. "Partly because Beth Flynn is a very popular actress around town, but also because it is very much a toe-tapping, hand-clapping, stand-up-and-dance kind of show."

And since everyone can use a little extra dough during the gift-giving season, this Sunday's preview performance will only set you back $12.

"There are touches of country throughout the show, but we've also got an Elvis medley, a Motown medley and some ballads that are really touching. It's a cool mixture," says Staples, who also directed the first Honky Tonk Angels and the Arvada Center production of The Dinner Party and The Children's Hour. "Sometimes we all need a night out to just sit back, relax and watch some gals put on a show."

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Julie Dunn
Contact: Julie Dunn