‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ a big showcase at St. Norbert

‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ a big showcase at St. Norbert

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – It’s business as usual for this time of year for the St. Norbert College Swinging Knights for the show troupe and its Christmas show – almost.

The troupe is performing nightly, putting on a show of songs filled with moods of the season – except there is no audience in Dudley Birder Hall on campus.

In a normal year, the hall is filled nightly.

In coronavirus pandemic-pestered 2020, the show is nightly streamed live to an online audience that could be anywhere. The students are performing as normal, though with a few extra challenges. Singing to an empty hall… sometimes wearing a mask, sometimes six feet away from the next person, always being on the spot after between-song blackouts…  just ain’t the same. At least the students are among friends/performance teammates working to a common goal that includes being entertaining.

The “as normal” means there is a task to be completed. The show alone clocks in at two hours and 11 minutes.

As usual, the show is a packed smorgasbord. The offerings are both substantial and sweet. Director Kent Paulsen presents the 13 singers in songs that allow individuals and the group to succeed.

The title of this year’s show, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” has multiple meanings. In introductions, some of the students expressed eagerness to be indeed be home for Christmas after a challenging semester. Many in the viewing audience are at home. In a larger picture, probably many people will be staying home this Christmas.

In the show are 29 songs plus an encore of sorts.

One of the fun songs is “Mrs. Santa’s Blues.” It’s an original song written by Kent Paulsen and Tom Kunkel, the former president of St. Norbert College. Imagine a blues singer, and she’s laying into “Another Christmas, and my man has gone away.” On she goes, lamenting her loneliness. In this case, the singer is Marki Hietpas, who sells the song in a bluesy blues singer way.

Another nice touch is the uplifting flow of “Christmas Waltz” with Emily Tomcek and Maverick Berner connecting – though masked at 10 or so feet apart – while Kent Paulsen glides along on piano.

And there is tenderness in “Breath of Heaven” with Megan Jesen and “A Baby Changes Everything” with Emma Hutter and “Love is Christmas” with Annie Yamamoto.

Among the big voices are Sarah Gregory’s, as in “December Prayer,” and Trent Larsen’s, as in “Panis Angelicus,” sung in Latin.

This is an ambitious, full concert – as usual. Nice.


Remaining performances: Livestreamed at 7 p.m. Dec. 13-17.

Info: snc.edu/knightsonbroadway

Program: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

Production team: Director – Kent Paulsen; assistant director, choreographer – Linda Feldman;  livestream director, graphics coordinator – Josh Fields; lighting/assistant technical director – Brittney Fritz; video control and camera operator – Paul Mashl; technical director – Corey Pinchart; audio – Alex Sudbrink

Part I

+ “Joy to the World” – All

+ “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – All

+ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – Maverick Berner (’23, Greendale)

+ “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)” – Megan Jasen (’22, West Bend)

+ “What Child is This”/“Child of the Poor” – Emma Hutter (’23, Fond du Lac) and Sam Skiff (’23, Fond du Lac)

+ “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Emily Tomcek (’21, De Pere)

+ “The First Noel” – Briah Larson (’22, Green Bay) and Trent Larson (’22, Greenville)

+ “December Prayer” – Sarah Gregory (’23, Green Bay)

+ “Little Drummer Boy”/“Peace on Earth” – Males

+ “Christmas Lullabye” – Marki Hietpas (’23, Combined Locks), Emma Hutter (’23, Fond du Lac), Annie Yamamoto (’22, Hoffman Estates, Illinois)

+ “Thank God It’s Christmas” – Garret Fritz (’23, Roselle, Illinois)

+ “Mrs. Santa’s Blues” – Marki Hietpas (’23, Combined Locks)

+ “Love Is Christmas” – Annie Yamamoto (’22, Hoffman Estates, Illinois)

+ “Oh Holy/Silent Night/Hallelujah” – All

Part II

+ “Where Are You Christmas” – Briah Larson (’22, Green Bay) and Annie Yamamoto (’22, Hoffman Estates, Illinois)

+ “A Baby Changes Everything” – Emma Hutter (’23, Fond du Lac)

+ “The Christmas Waltz” – Emily Tomcek (’21, De Pere) and Maverick Berner (’23, Greendale)

+ “The Secret of Christmas” – Marki Hietpas (’23, Combined Locks)

+ “Wrapped in Red” – Briah Larson (’22, Green Bay)

+ “When My Heart Finds Christmas” – Daniel Scaife (‘’23, Madison)

+ “Winter Song” – Sarah Gregory (’23, Green Bay), Megan Jasen (’22, West Bend), Briah Larson (’22, Green Bay)

+ “Bring Me Love” – Anton Maslowski (’23, Madison)

+ “Believe” – Sam Skiff (’23, Fond du Lac)

+ “We All Need Christmas” – Garret Fritz (’23, Roselle, Illinois)

+ “A Hand for Santa” – Sarah Gregory (’23, Green Bay) and Marki Hietpas (’23, Combined Locks)

+ “Panis Angelicus (Bread of Angels)” – Trent Larson (’22, Greenville)

+ “Noel” – Annie Yamamoto (’22, Hoffman Estates, Illinois)

+ “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – All, individually

+ “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” – Trent Larson (’22, Greenville) and All

“Encore” (recorded)

+ “The Twelve Days of Quarantine” – All, in sequence like “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

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