BLOOMINGTON  — It’s Holiday Spectacular time and here come 136 singers, dancers, and actors, more dazzling costumes than one can count, gorgeous sets, thrilling vocals, a local story, a majestic Nativity scene and much, much more.

The Spec, now in its 16th year, is one of Bloomington-Normal’s most treasured holiday traditions.

Performances are at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, with matinee performances at 2 p.m. Dec. 2 and Dec. 3.

Tickets are available at the BCPA box office (309-434-2777) or online.

The Holiday Spectacular is a hometown extravaganza with story elements that are unique to Central Illinois. It weaves together polished production numbers that would be at home on big city stages (at many times the price).

Spec veterans Michelle Vought and Jennifer Rusk, well known for their professional singing and acting, headline this year’s show. Joining them are Ed Campbell, Kevin Alleman, Paul Vellella and Katie Brokaw.

A trio of pizza bakers, the Spec’s very own “The Three Tenors,” is sure to be a hit. After all, where else can you find three funny, classically trained tenors in the same place at the same time?

The 2017 version of the Holiday Spectacular includes blockbuster features audiences have come to love, such as the precision-dancing Toy Soldiers, the enormous all-cast Santa medley, the Dobski dancers and the mass choir Nativity. Tappers are back in a number so complicated audiences will wonder how they got it right.

And many of Central Illinois favorite singers will be taking star turns. Among them are Ronnie Jones, Kim Matlock, Deb Phillips, Joe Palma, Kip Hayden, Fred Render and Kenny Prince.

Executive Producer Marcia Basolo, in partnership with The Pantagraph, began the Holiday Spectacular adventure 16 years ago. Thousands have been drawn in through the years. Bill Waller and the Habitat for Humanity crew will once again build the set.

“This year’s story celebrates the great adventure that is putting on a massive show in Central Illinois,” says Basolo. “I promise there will be thrills and chills, plus lots of heartwarming moments. We have some acts that people have come to expect and some things that will really, really surprise them.”

During August auditions, Basolo said, she thought they had the most talent ever, in every age category, trying out for their place in the spotlight.

Lori Adams directs the show and Nancy Steele Brokaw writes the story. Michael Schneider and Angela Bargeman direct the music and also perform. Stacy Terry and Janet Hayslip share the choreography. John C. Stark designs the set. All are longtime Spec veterans who are drawn in by the chance to work on a big community show that reflects the joys of the season and the miracle of what happens when people come together to work for something bigger than themselves.

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