It’s going to be a Very Chris-Terical Christmas this year. Chris Tsujiuchi will be bringing his popular show to Theatre Collingwood, for the first time, from Dec. 20-21.

“This show is slightly different for Theatre Collingwood audiences,” said Tsujiuchi. “I won’t be behind the piano. I will be front and centre singing songs and performing, telling stories and all of that.”

He has been playing the piano since the age of 12. Singing lessons followed at age 15. He spent his high school years at the Etobicoke School of the Arts. Next, it was the music theatre program at Sheridan College. Becoming a musical director was a natural transition for him and, after graduation, he landed his first show in Toronto. Since then, he has served as musical director for several Theatre Collingwood shows and has curated one of the fundraisers.

A Very Chris-Terical Christmas Cabaret marks its 10th anniversary this year and will be staged at Toronto prior to the Collingwood show. It features a cast of Tsujiuchi’s friends, a merry band of seven singers and musicians he has known from various bands and shows over the past decade. Their goal is to spread as much Christmas cheer as they possibly can.

“There is a script,” said Tsujiuchi. “The way I describe it is storytelling and music combined. In between each song there’s a story to be told. They’re all my stories and there is always a bit of audience interaction. It’s a cabaret concert format.”

The show runs the gamut from music theatre songs to pop and holiday tunes. He likes to features songs that haven’t been overplayed. His favourites are O Holy Night and The Christmas Song.

“My number one rule is no All I Want for Christmas is You,” he said. “A lot of the songs you won’t hear on the radio but they are mostly popular ones.”

In addition to his work at Theatre Collingwood, Tsujiuchi teaches voice at Collingwood and Toronto, is currently a musician in St. Royal’s Wedding Band at Toronto and recently wrapped up a show at the Randolph Academy as musical director. He has also worked as an accompanist and teacher at Sheridan College and George Brown College and toured as an accompanist with singer and cabaret superstar Sharron Matthews.

He performed as a singer for three-and-a-half years with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale (NDC). During a tour with the choral group, he had an opportunity to see the Putnam County Spelling Bee on Broadway in New York City and fell in love with musical theatre.

“I wasn’t serious about it until I saw Spelling Bee on Broadway and went ‘this is it!’,” he recalled. “There’s something about musical theatre that you can’t get anywhere else and I wanted to know more about it.”

He recently realized a long-time dream to record an album, A Very Chris-Terical Christmas, which will be ready for the Collingwood show.

The cabaret unfolds Dec. 20-21 at the Gayety Theatre in downtown Collingwood. Visit theatrecollingwood.ca for tickets.

Photo: Chris Tsujiuchi and Kevin Wong will be performing in A Very Chris-Terical Christmas Cabaret at Collingwood Dec. 20-21.