Bravado marks the beginning of the Christmas season with several glitz and glamour-themed concerts, Nov. 30-Dec. 1. There are two evening Christmastravaganza concerts and one shorter version, especially for children, with pre-show crafts and activities.

“Think extravagant Christmas,” said artistic director and conductor Marianne Derow. “It’s a fun, upscale kind of thing with some audience participation. We hope people take the bull by the horns and dress up in their finest attire.”

This year also marks the introduction of a new venture, BravadoKids, a show choir of children. They have been rehearsing since September to prepare for the upcoming shows. It began as a pilot project earlier this year when a group of kids sang a Frozen medley (from the movie) at the spring concert.

“We thought that was so successful and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves,” said Derow, who is starting the choir and hopes it will grow. “We would love to have a choir of 20, 30, 40. We want as many kids as possible to have the opportunity. We may have some scholarships available and kids can still join in advance of the spring concert.”

BravadoKids will be featured in the children’s matinee show and will also perform with the adults in the evening concert. Children interested in joining the choir can find out more at bravadoshowchoir.com. Rehearsals start at the end of January.

Bravado has carved out a unique place in Barrie’s choral scene. Since it was established in 1966 as a show choir, there are been many memorable performances featuring a variety of themes, music genres, costumes, choreography and the occasional skit. Currently, there are 24 singers and all have auditioned to be in the choir. For the concerts, there is also a four-piece band.

For the two-concert season, there are also special guests. The upcoming Christmas concert will feature a group of handbell ringers from Midland. Santa is also slated to make an appearance. At the 2019 spring concert, look for silk acrobatics.

Both Derow and the Bravado accompanist Meaghan Ing bring a theatrical background to the choir. Derow marked her first season with Bravado last year. She brings a mix of conducting experience, opera production, arts administration and teaching. She spent 12 years teaching at the Etobicoke School for the Arts and four years as head of the musical theatre department. She continues to do workshops at the school as well as at Sheridan College and The Children’s Musical Theatre Project in Toronto. She also maintains a private studio called Voxworx.

“The wonderful thing about musical theatre is you get to sing, act, move – even in Bravado we try to bring that out with sets, backgrounds, props, costuming,” she said.

Ing has returned to Bravado after a year away to have identical twin boys, born August 2017. She also has a daughter, age five years, six months. Since she graduated from Sheridan College’s music theatre performance program, she has spearheaded numerous shows and currently teaches voice at Moving Art, where she is also the music director of the Senior Triple Threat program.

Bravado’s Christmastravaganza show will be Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Collier Street United Church. The children’s matinee is Dec. 1 at 2 p.m., with crafts and activities for the kids before the show. Visit bravadoshowchoir.com for more information.

Photo: Bravado accompanist Meaghan Ing, left, and choir director Marianne Derow are staging a Christmastravaganza for this year’s holiday concerts.

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