Sounds — and Sights — of the Season

Warrenton United Methodist Church’s Living Christmas Tree is back after a one-year hiatus

One of the most beloved holiday traditions in Warrenton is back this year, to the delight of many families who have made Warrenton United Methodist Church’s Living Christmas Tree performance part of their yearly holiday customs.

Much more than a church choir singing Christmas Carols, the Living Christmas Tree is a high energy, multisensory music, light, and action experience that will delight people of all ages. People come for the Christmas music, but are also captivated by the rest of the components of the performance.

“There were a lot of disappointed people last year when we took a year off from the show,” said Tammy Wannemacher, WUMC member and Living Christmas Tree singer. The church, which concentrated on its 200 year anniversary instead of its annual performances, received a flood of crestfallen communication in 2018.

The LCT, originally envisioned by WUMC’s former Director of Music Rev. Richard E. Ford, has been delighting audiences since 2001 and is back this year under the able direction of Choir Director and Organist Peter Lewis.

The show is centered around Christmas music performed by 50 singers. Accompanied by a 14-piece orchestra comprised of local and visiting instrumentalists, they perform a wide variety of holiday songs, from traditional carols to modern, Christian contemporary numbers.

Visually, the show is a treat also. The singers are standing in a huge steel structure shaped and decorated like a Christmas tree, the focal point of the room. The performance is further enriched by a high-tech light show, adding to the energy of the experience.

Having amassed 98 performances under their belt since 2001, the huge production has become like a well oiled machine due to the 60-80 volunteers that labor behind the scenes on 10 different work teams. They perform all kinds of services: setting up and taking down the tree, preparing and decorating the tree and sanctuary, and creating and running the light show. Additional volunteers provide meals to feed the week day work teams and weekend performers, to act as ushers during the performance, and to work behind — and even under — the massive tree during the shows.

Rehearsals for the 50-60 singers start in September each year, and is open to all ages — the youngest this year is in the sixth grade, and there are members in their 80s climbing up onto the structure to sing. Though the majority of performers are WUMC members, anyone in the community is welcome to join. There are no auditions involved. “Anyone who has the heart for music and is willing to commit to the performances is welcome,” explained Tammy. Alice West, LCT Coordinator for all 18 years added, “Well…they also need to be able to memorize their music, tolerate heights, and stand fairly still for an hour and a half!”

The performances are held in the sanctuary at WUMC, which has the capacity to hold an audience of 350+. At 90 minutes long, the performance is suitable for children as young as pre-school age, and there is free child care available for families with younger children who would like to enjoy the experience without the distraction of little ones. You do need a ticket to attend, but general admission tickets are free and available on a first come first served basis, with the doors opening 45 minutes before each performance. New this year is the option to purchase select tickets for $10 which guarantee a seat in a reserved section providing a great view of the show. Proceeds from ticket sales, along with a collection at each show, will go toward defraying the cost of the production after ten percent is given to this year’s charity, the Fauquier Community Coalition. “The LCT is a very community-oriented event,” explained Tammy. “We want to bring forth our message of what Christmas is all about, and we also want to give back.”

Performance schedule
Thursday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 14 at 4 & 7 p.m.
Sunday, December 15 at 4 & 7 p.m.

Warrenton United Methodist Church
341 Church Street, Warrenton

Tickets and information
540-347-1367, ext. 125

Pam Kamphuis
About Pam Kamphuis 142 Articles
Pam Kamphuis is an editor and writer for Piedmont Virginian Magazine and Piedmont Lifestyle Magazines.

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