The 200-voice Indianapolis Symphonic Choir if performing its annual “Festival of Carols” at the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University Sunday, December 3 at 7 p.m. It will also be presented at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel on Friday, December 15 at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 16 at 3 p.m. and Sunday, December 17 at 3 p.m. Although best known for performing classical music, the ISC, led by Dr. Eric Stark, will sing a selection of holiday favorites.
The ISC, one of the largest and oldest choruses in the U.S., will be joined on stage at the popular “Festival of Carols” by Center Grove High School’s choir at the Schrott Center and Avon High School at the Palladium. They are Spotlight Choirs, part of a series that benefits high school music programs.
Starring as a soloist in all five family-friendly “Festival of Carols” concerts is Tony Award-winning (Best Lead Actress in a Musical for “Next to Normal” in 2009) actor-singer-songwriter and mixed-media artist, Alice Ripley. Ripley is also known for her role as a conjoined twin with Emily Skinner in Broadway’s cult-hit “Side Show.” Ripley and Skinner performed their show “Unattached!” in November at The Cabaret in the Grand Hall of the Landmark Center in Indianapolis. Indiana is familiar territory for Ripley who attended DePauw University in Greencastle for a few years.
Recently, I spoke briefly by phone with Ripley who happened to be in Long Island at a friend’s place that day. The first thing I asked her was what she was currently working on and she said, “I am in a musical called ‘The Learned Ladies’ based on the Molière comedy written by Ray Leslee and Brian Dykstra. It is hilarious and touching. It lives in the world of ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812.’ There is a character that raps in the show and it takes place in the era of Louis the XIV, but it’s like a ‘Blade Runner’ version. We want it to be edgy or sexier than usual, funnier and wise. Then, Emily and I will be doing ‘Unattached’ at Feinstein’s 54/Below November 28 through December 6, with a break to fly out to Indy to appear in ‘Festival of Carols’ on the third.”
Regarding the “Festival of Carols,” Ripley says this is the first concert she has performed in with a large choir like the ISC. As far as what it represents, she said “In this day and age we have to escape reality to some degree and you have to envision what you want and stay focused on something joyful and tender. We need to embrace ourselves and our knowledge of what makes us happy. We know we are happier when we turn off the screen and walk away for a while. Also, we are not different at all. I think this is what this season is all about. That is what this concert is all about. We are doing it as a celebration of joy and everybody is invited. Nobody is excluded. Everybody is invited to believe in the magic.”
Ripley is also certain that “Festival of Carols” will help concert-goers catch the Christmas spirit. “You are going to leave with visions of poinsettias and beautiful golden lights, sparkly things moving across the stage and you’ll have the memory of people laughing and ooh-ing and aaah-ing and madly applauding. That is what I think it is going to be. It seems guaranteed to be something like that. Who doesn’t get excited when hearing the strings in the beginning of the ‘Christmas Waltz?’ There is no question that you will be excited and happy.”