One of the preeminent holiday musicals each season is "Hark Up": the multi-media extravaganza featuring hundreds of performers – choirs and instrumental ensembles and soloists. This is the 19th year for the ambitious production, which features five performances: 7:30pm Fri. Nov. 30 and Sat. Dec. 1, and matinee shows at 3pm Sat., and 1:30 and 5:30pm Sun. Dec. 2 at DeVos Center for Worship & the Arts, at Grand Rapids Christian High School, 2300 Plymouth Ave. SE.
"Be Lifted Up" is the 2018 theme, taken from the Israel Houghton song which gets a full-on stage treatment this year.
Many of the performers are Hark Up veterans. Singers Bob Wells, Shannon Dykstra, Angie Royce and Geoff Hansen have been with the show for years.
"The Hark Up Horns will be central, as always, as well as the Hark-Up Choir," noted director Chris Hansen.
Three dance ensembles, the Unity Christian High School Orchestra, and Hudsonville Christian Middle School Choir are also part of the program.
"New this year is the East Grand Rapids High School Drumline," Hansen added.
Singer Breighanna Minnema has been with Hark Up for 12 years –minus her time studying musical theatre in New York. In 2018 she has the added role of associate producer. "During my first years everything was on a smaller scale," she recalled. "But over the past few years, the interest, the excitement and the passion for the story of the birth of Christ that Hark Up strives to share has grown, and so has the production."
Tickets: standard seating $22 advance, $25 at the door. Premium seating $29 advance, $32 at the door. Discount for children and students, plus family packs available. Visit online.
Another grand holiday event is the For King & Country and Zach Williams "Little Drummer Boy" Christmas show at 7pm Sun. Dec. 9 at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids. (We'll preview this concert in a separate article in several weeks). Tickets start at $33.50 and are available at area Ticketmaster outlets, or online.
OTHER MUSICAL EVENTS:
*Greater Vision and Legacy Five – The Southern gospel groups present "Jubilee Christmas" at 3pm Sat. Dec. 1 at Fairhaven Church, 2900 Baldwin St. Hudsonville. Tickets are $30 artist circle, $20 general admission. Available online or 800-965-9324.
*Melanie Penn – The singer brings her "Immanuel" tour at 7pm Tues. Dec. 4 at Calvary Church, 400 Beeline Rd. Holland. For more info online.
*Metropolitan Choir of Praise and Jubal Brass – The area ensembles perform at 3pm Sun. Dec. 9 at the Basilica of St. Adalbert, 654 Davis Ave. NW. Grand Rapids, Tickets are $8. Online.
*Growing Roots – The folk ensemble performs at 7pm Fri. Dec. 14 at Baker Book House, 2768 E. Paris Ave. SE. There is no admission charge.
* Messiah Sing-A-Long – Come and join in singing the classic by Handel at 7:30pm Sun. Dec. 16 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 2700 E. Fulton, Grand Rapids. Admission is $5 at the door.
AND DRAMATIC PERFORMANCES...
Here's an event that will be missed this season. The annual "Journey to Bethlehem" in Grand Haven is taking a Sabbatical after a six-year run. The elaborate presentation, with its outdoor staging of the various locations in the Christmas story performed over multiple weekends by hundreds of volunteers, is resting this year.
"The harsh weather, particularly last year, and six years of setting up and taking down the set have taken a severe toll on its condition, and it is in great need of repair, rebuilding and repainting," said a spokesperson for the event supported by dozens of churches in the area. "Several other challenges need to also be addressed and these issues will take planning and time."
Meanwhile, a similar event, - albeit on a smaller scale - continues this season, Dec. 7-9 at Jenison Bible Church, 6360 14th Ave. in Hudsonville. Both an indoor "streets of Bethlehem experience" and outdoor live nativity are featured. The free presentation includes activities for kids and a guided outdoor walking tour to the stable (rides are also available). Times are 6 to 8pm Friday, 5 to 8pm Sat and Sun. For more information visit online.
Brookside Christian Reformed Church also hosts a life nativity on the evenings of Dec. 7-9. The church, 3600 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, has three viewings on the church lawn: 7, 7:30 and 8pm each evening. There's also a Neighbors in Nazareth display inside. No admission charge. Visit http://brooksidecrc.org/events/living-nativity