A dancing hippo, colorful staging and more than 200 performers will star in a holiday extravaganza in Lee’s Summit called “The Wonderful World of Christmas.”
Monica’s School of Dance presents the show every other year and it’s becoming a tradition for some families.
Diane Valle, a regular member of the audience, said her children took dance classes from Monica Renwick years ago. Now Valle takes neighborhood children to see the show.
“It’s like the best-kept secret in town,” Valle said. “It’s adorable.”
Renwick, a master dancer who gives workshops in New York City, and her husband, artist Mike Coupe, said they already had been presenting the stage show for Christmas in the Sky sponsored by Jackson County Parks and Recreation.
Then the couple attended a show by the Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
“We just had to do an inside show in that style,” Renwick said.
She wrote and choreographed the show which wraps around performances of traditional favorites. The first three years, starting in 2004, it was an annual event, but is such a big undertaking they cut back to every other year.
Renwick said it’s a professional show performed by children.
Hours and hours of preparation have passed for the dancers and singers, children and teenagers mostly from Lee’s Summit.
Coupe built props and costumes for the show, from an over-sized hobby horse and building blocks to a giant puppet wagon, or hats for toy soldiers.
He said while planning one number, “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” he’d intended to go to use a theater supply company.
“There’s no hippopotamus costume to be rented,” he said.
So he built his own, making the head by carving a form out of foam to shape a paper mache head around it, covered that with fabric.
“Many, many hours of work, I couldn’t even guess how many,” Coupe said.
Youths in the show said Renwick is a demanding teacher.
“Yeah, but we need it,” said Maya Momon, a freshman at Lee’s Summit High School who said she’d like a professional dance career. “It’s fun, it’s dancing and acting, and then your family gets to come see you. That’s cool.”
The review is built around a little girl, Christy, who in her dreams visit places like Toyland, Candy Cane Lane, Santa’s workshop and much more.
“We want you to relax and see Christmas through a child’s eye for two hours,” Coupe said.