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BWW Previews: THIRTY PATEL CONSERVATORY STUDENTS BRING WHITE CHRISTMAS  at Straz Center For The Performing ArtsComing to Straz Performing Arts Center, under the expert direction of Suzanne Livesay, Vice President of Education, 30 seventh through twelfth graders, Mackenzie Prince, Aaron Graham, Wren Livesay, Isabella Ferber, Will Wallace, Alondra Rios, Victoria Huerta, Quinten Hall, Ericca Leyva, Emily Patrick, Ryan Pope, Tristan Horta, Hathaway Miller, Dawson Snyder, Emma Oros, Emma Iannuzzi, Ben Avriett, Asia Folsch, Mara Gamson, Jazmine Jackson, Ben Avriett, Kennedie Clinton, Alexandra DeRousie, Asia Folsch, Mara Gamson, Brilee Gold, Emmerson Grabill, Quinten Hall, Tristan Horta, Jazmine Jackson, Ericca Leyva, Hathaway Miller, Jadon Milne, Samantha Money, Emma Oros, Sofia Oros, Emily Patrick, Ryan Pope, Zoe Priolo, Gabe Russe, Dawson Snyder, and Caroline Williamson star in the beloved classic story White Christmas on December 20 and 21.

If you don't know the story, based on the 1954 classic with Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, White Christmas tells the tale of a song and dance duo, Phil and Bob (Kaye and Crosby) who follow singing sisters to a Christmas show at the lodge of their former WWII army commander. Greeted with a heatwave, the duo scheme to bring their touring show and their old Army division to the Inn to honor their General.

"With our Nutcracker performances scheduled very early this year, we thought we'd try a holiday musical. This title was at the top of my list because it's one of my favorite holiday movies," said Suzanne. "The creators changed just enough from the movie that some parts are a little unrecognizable. I'm hopeful our interpretation will remind the audience of the film and help get everyone reminiscing and into the holiday spirit."

Suzanne said that if you've seen the original movie, the live rendition has some pleasant surprises.

"My favorite additions to the musical are the reinterpretations of the roles of "Emma"-the nosy housekeeper--and "Susan"-the general's granddaughter--from the film. Emma's role is now Martha, who still helps at the Inn, but was a former performer herself. Susan's character is also beefed-up a bit and the two actresses playing these roles, Alondra Rios and Victoria Huerta, are masterful in their interpretations."

Sixteen-year-old Riverview High School student Aaron Graham plays Phil. He credits his stepmother for introducing him to the Patel Conservatory.

"She was going to Dance Tampa to get my stepsister's pointe shoes and she came upon this ad that said "auditions for Into The Woods Jr. at the Patel Conservatory," and she showed it to me. At first, I was little nervous, but I took it as an opportunity to start a new chapter in my life and after my audition, I got the news that I got in. Ever since I've been in shows now for the past 5 years."

Aaron said his favorite moment in the production was where he and Bob (Mackenzie Prince) perform their own version of "Sisters," and his favorite song his castmates perform is "Love You Didn't Do Right By Me."

"' Sisters' is where we get to have a lot of fun and show our chemistry," he said. "I just love how the audience gets to see the character development between Bob and Betty, especially Bob in 'Love You Didn't Do Right By Me.'"

Conducted by Dr. Lauren Murray, to make this holiday production even more special, White Christmas features live orchestra members Sarah Tellier-Keyboard 1, Tony Hicks-Alto Saxophone/Tenor Saxophone, Jillian Ledwon-Flute, Andrew Valencia-Clarinet/Tenor Saxophone, Jack Brickelmeyer-Trumpet 1, Raheem Smith-Trumpet 2, Brandon Paulsen-Trumpet 3, Haley Klouda-Horn, Aryn Nester - Trombone 1, Jackie Ganter-Trombone 2, Kelsey Robinson-Violin 1, Mariana Reyes - Violin 1, Desiree Mattei - Violin 2, Brad Ryan - Violin 2, Matthew Rothfarb - Cello, Charlie Levandoski - Bass, Sylvia Vicente - Bass, Cole Aiken - Drums, with Section Coaches Dr. Catherine Michelsen and Rob Murray.

Suzanne encourages audience members of all ages to come out and share in the holiday magic. Afterward, she hopes that the audience is talking about the talents of the cast, but also the special moment they have planned to incorporate the veterans in the audience.

Aaron added, "I want them to be reminded of home and what they're thankful for in life and that they can have a White Christmas because this show is truly about that and being with the ones you love."

White Christmas is at Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, December 20 @ 7:00pm, Saturday, December 21 @ 2:30pm and 7:00pm. A special dress rehearsal on December 19th is available as a sensory-friendly performance option. Those interested should contact Straz's Community Engagement department for specifics. For tickets, visit Follow Patel Conservatory Theater on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest news.

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From This Author Deborah Bostock-Kelley