Uptown Swing

Some of the performers from the upcoming Uptown Swing for the Holiday get into the Christmas spirit. Standing from left, Joseph Romanini, Nichole Heasley, Terry Cano and Steve Eisen; seated, from left, Ken Burdick, Amelia Mejia, Mason Edwards and Jennifer Resolme. The show will be performed Saturday at Ovation Theatre.

Courtesy of Jennifer Resolme

Picture this: You've taken a seat around the fireplace, gathering with family and friends, and engage in a heartwarming singalong of holiday classics. Although the reality of that might not be likely — given wood-burning restrictions and tone-deaf loved ones — Ovation Theatre can still grant this Christmas wish at least for one night.

On Dec. 23, the downtown theater will host Uptown Swing for the Holidays, which will team musicians who performed in Uptown's inaugural show this summer with skilled vocalists.

"It's going to be a swinging holiday extravaganza," said Steve Eisen, trumpeter and Bakersfield Jazz Workshop founder, who put together the ensemble for this and the July performance. 

Along with Eisen, the Uptown Swing Quintet performing next week, consists of some of Bakersfield's best musicians: John Calo on saxophone, Terry Cano on piano/keyboards, Glen Fong on electric bass, and Pat Frase on drums. (Cano also served as musical director for the show.)

The musical lineup will feature instrumentals along with performances featuring six accomplished vocalists: Ken Burdick, Jennifer Resolme, Joseph Romanini, Mason Edwards, Nichole Heasley and Amelia Mejia.

Mejia said the show is staged so the musicians and singers can be on stage for the whole performance, creating that evening around the hearth atmosphere. That staging also sets the audience up for a bit of participation, whether that's singing or clapping along with the beat.

"It's a setting where the audience can be involved," Mejia said. "It's fairly interactive with singalongs, ones that people are familiar with."

Some of those songs include "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bell Rock," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "White Christmas," "Home for the Holidays," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Ave Maria," "Christmas Time is Here," "Let It Snow" and "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."

The show will run just under two hours with an intermission where the concession booth will sell hot chocolate, apple cider and other seasonal snacks. 

Music lovers of all ages are encouraged to attend, and Mejia said, given the interactive nature of the show, that this can be a good theatrical introduction for small children.

"It's a good show to test the waters, to see if your child would be good (behaving) at a performance," she said.

Eisen also touted the inclusive vibe and said people should bring those visiting town for the holidays.

"We certainly encourage everybody to bring their family out," he said. "It's an event that will bring the holiday spirit out in everybody."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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