BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s the time of year for holiday festivities and celebrations but with COVID-19 taking center stage, many annual Christmas performances have been canceled. Some shows are still happening but they look a bit different than in years past.
Center Stage, like many other Coast theatres, has not debuted a show in nearly a year. Now that the holidays are here, theatre leaders felt it was time to turn on the lights once again.
“We want Center Stage to be available to our patrons and to the Coast, and we want to figure out the safest way for that to be possible,” said Center Stage Executive Chair, Heather Dauzat. “So it was important for us to find a way to reach our patrons and the Gulf Coast.”
With that idea in mind, the board of directors put their best foot forward to bring a South Mississippi holiday mainstay back to the stage.
“Sounds of the Holidays is a beloved Mississippi Gulf Coast tradition and we could not think of anything more appropriate to bring joy and light into a very challenging year, one of the most challenging years we can remember,” Dauzat said.
After five years away, Sounds of the Holidays is back but this year it will be virtual. You’ll see familiar faces, bringing you the holiday songs that you know and love, but this time you can enjoy the show from the comfort of your socially-distanced recliner or home office.
Jesse Hill, a known Coast crooner, stays booked this time of year. Because of the pandemic, his gigs have dried up but this year he’s sure to not have a Blue Christmas.
“Instead of all of these private parties canceling, I figured let’s get some musicians together and do something to give to the people,” said Hill. “Even though your Christmas parties are canceled, the music doesn’t have to stop, you know.”
Hill will be debuting The At-Home Christmas Special right before Christmas. He says it helps him have an outlet and keeps music alive.
“It’s sad because - When you’ve been doing it for so long, (the pandemic) has just changed the game,” he said. “But, I feel like we have found new avenues to go and use to get to the people still. You know, you can’t stop the music. You can stop the venue from having people come in but you can’t stop the song.”
Despite the fact that the shows will look and feel different this year, they’re still there and they’re free of COVID worry.
“This gives them a way to hear the Christmas music, get in that spirit, and not put themselves as risk,” Hill said.
Sounds of the Holidays will be streaming online Dec. 18-19. You can find the link to watch on Center Stage Biloxi’s Facebook page.
The At-Home Christmas Special will be streaming at 7 p.m. on Dec. 23. You can watch that on the Jesse Hill Music Facebook page.