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The Villages
Monday, May 27, 2024

‘Andy Williams Christmas Show’ brings back holiday memories at Savannah Center

A generation of television viewers came of age with the “Andy Williams Christmas Show.”
It was a holiday staple from 1962 to ’73, and remains a comforting, nostalgic memory for those who watched.
Williams passed away in 2012, but the spirit of his music and television specials – like the spirit of Christmas — permeated Savannah Center on Sunday evening.

“The Andy Williams Christmas shows had a warm, family feeling and we hope to bring that feeling to you tonight,” said Sue Schuler, who produced and organized the program.
It was called “A Tribute to the Andy Williams Christmas Shows.” A near capacity crowd came to the event, which benefited The Wildwood Soup Kitchen.

Sue Schuler with her daughter Jen Mohaghegh and grand daughter Ari Schuler sing together
Sue Schuler with her daughter Jen Mohaghegh and grand daughter Ari Schuler sing together

Williams often featured the Osmond Family on his shows. He started his career singing with the Williams brothers’ quartet, and they also were frequent guests.
“So, I thought it would be nice to have my family be a part of the show,” Schuler said. She along with her daughter and grand-daughter — Jen Mohaghegh and Ariana Schuler —  sang “Winter Wonderland.” Schuler also teamed with Mohaghegh on a duet, “Silver Bells.”

The talented cast opened the show singing Andy Williams’ trademark Christmas song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Christmas cookies and cheer were available during the tribute to the Andy Williams Christmas Show Sunday in Savannah Centen
Christmas cookies and cheer were available during the tribute to the Andy Williams Christmas Show Sunday at Savannah Center.

The program was filled with carols, comedy, dance routines and sacred songs.  It also featured video clips and pictures of Andy Williams on a huge video screen behind the stage.

Mollie McCarthy and Frank Olive work their Christmas list during the song Santa Baby
Mollie McCarthy and Frank Olive work their Christmas list during the song “Santa Baby.”

Williams’ Christmas spirit was contagious on this night.
Mollie McCarthy and Frank Olive were as spicy as Christmas punch during a simmering version of “Santa Baby.” McCarthy wore a long, tight white gown while Olive, who wore a spiffy black tux, paid plenty of attention to her.

Sue Schuler, far right, joins Sara Kallioinen at piano and from left Bill Davis and Bill McGaughey for caroling
Sue Schuler, far right, joins Sara Kallioinen, at piano, and, from left, Bill Davis and Bill McGaughey, for caroling.

Bill Davis and Bill McGaughey teamed for a moving and tender version of “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.”
The singers gathered around the piano, as Sara Kallioinen played while they sang carols. The group was in spirited form on “Jingle Bells.”

Dance Fusion perked up the audience with a lively choreography about the big guy in a red suit on “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Dance Synergy flashed more yuletide joy on a couple numbers: “It’s the Holiday Season” and “The Christmas Sweater.”

Dance Fusion ready to welcome the big guy in the red suit
Dance Fusion ready to welcome the big guy in the red suit.

A man-sized gingerbread cookie stole the show on the Dance Fusion number, “Christmas Cookies,” choreographed by Linda Bitterly.

A dance highlight was the ballet by Michele Connors to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Kallioinen once again added a majestic touch with her piano skill, and it was choreographed by Cheri Lindell.
“This wouldn’t be an Andy Williams show without a male quartet,” Schuler said, introducing The Villages Pops Folk Quartet.
The group features Woody High and Jack Strite along with Davis and McGaughey.
They may not be the Williams’ brothers, but this quartet delivered harmony and power on “Mary’s Little Boy Child” and “The Marvelous Toy.” The quartet reverently captured the spiritual impact of “Silent Night.”
One of Andy Williams’ favorite songs was “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” That’s what this show felt like: a trip to television past — and a trip back home.

Tony Violanti covers music and entertainment for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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