RUMFORD – Always a time for celebration, this holiday season is especially meaningful for the Rumford Association for the Advancement of Performing Arts. It is RAAPA’s 40th anniversary and to mark this milestone, the group’s annual holiday concert will be even more special.

The show, titled “My Favorite Things: The RAPPA 40th Anniversary Special,” will be a celebration of past and recent performances, incorporating traditional songs and new arrangements.

RAAPA was formed in 1968 as a local organization to promote the performing arts in this mill town. The group’s first production was a performance of Handel’s “Messiah.’

Today, RAAPA is one of the largest community choruses in western Maine with 50-plus members. Its nonprofit performances throughout the year raise money to sponsor local school scholarships and to support local charities.

The group performed its first Christmas show in 1972, which became an annual event known as the RAPPA “Musical Christmas Card.” In recent years, under the direction of Robert Bohren, the concerts have been scripted to reflect specific themes in an effort to add a stronger theatrical element. These storylines, such as last year’s tale of the “City Mouse and Country Mouse,” have proven to be successful.

To highlight the group’s 40th anniversary, Bohren reviewed 36 years of past Christmas programs and polled individual chorus members for song selections. The most popular musical pieces were tabulated and chosen as “Our Favorite Things” and then adapted into a four-act production.

The show will open with a chorus-building exercise that spotlights each vocal section to point out its unique contribution to the choir. These musical antics are filled with humorous moments as the sopranos grab for the spotlight, the altos lament and the men try to determine who is more “manly” – tenors, baritones or bass? When the individual sections are finally brought together as a whole, the choir launches its holiday-themed program.

Act II will bring back the live nativity, an audience favorite, featuring more traditional Christmas music such as “Rise Up Shepherds” and “Peace Carol.” This year, the beloved story of the birth of Christ will be told through the eyes of Joseph, oftentimes the forgotten man of the Nativity.

Act III is for the “child” in all of us as the performance focuses on the man of the hour, Santa Claus. Kid-friendly songs such as “Here Comes Santa Claus,””Snow Day” and a “Polar Express Medley” will be featured. The Children from Expressive Moments Studio will also perform under the direction of Thea Dunn.

The finale will feature songs about snow, sleigh riding and dancing – all designed to send audience members home filled with the spirit of the season.

Much of the appeal of the RAAPA Christmas concert lies in its originality with several songs arranged by Bohre exclusively for this performance.

“My Favorite Things; The RAAPA 40th Anniversary Special” will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, in Muskie Auditorium at Mountian Valley High School. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children 12 and under. Tickets are available from any RAAPA chorus member or from the following ticket outlets in the Rumford area: Bartash Gifts, Hannaford Supermarket, Larsen’s Electric, Port to Port and Log Cabin Craftworks.


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