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Local talent sings Christmas praise at Rex

• Now a festive staple during Christmas on Main Street, Christmas Music at the Rex wrapped up another year


December 7, 2017

Justin Harris

BRINGING JOY TO YOUR WORLD, the Ladies Christmas Choir sang "Away in a Manger" and "Joy to the World" during their time on stage at Christmas Music at the Rex event, Saturday evening.

"We were so glad for the community support, it is good to know people appreciate this little performance each year," said Jan Manning, who created Christmas Music at the Rex eight years ago as a way to put a cap on the busy, event-filled day of Christmas on Main Street in Thompson Falls.

Before Christmas Music at the Rex was created, many just didn't feel that the evening was over once the Main Street Parade concluded. These days, parade-goers appreciate the open doors of the Rex Theatre to find a seat, warm up, and hear some local talent before heading home.

This year looked iffy for the music performance, as many of the regular performers were out of town. A few phone calls and a little running around by Manning had the evening's lineup organized with ease, and the new performers slated to hit the stage were excited to be a part of the event.

Once the audience from the parade had found their way into the theatre, Manning took a microphone to welcome them. She then introduced Fire Creek Band for the evening's first piece. The band explained that their bass player Zach Whipple-Kilmer was absent, but remaining members Jerry Lentz, Danny Miles and Justin Harris were able to deliver a fun song accompanied by Harris's guitar. "Hangin' Round the Mistletoe" was originally recorded by Alabama for their Christmas album, but the guys from Fire Creek added a little heat and swing to give the three-part harmonies some jazz.

Following the band's song, Harris invited seventh-grade student JJ Fields to the stage. The pair belted out a ragtime version of "Winter Wonderland." Harris then performed a fingerpicking version of "O, Holy Night" before giving the stage to another guitarist.

Susie Bryan has experience as a player and singer in worship bands over the years, and was excited to share her talents at the Rex. Her rich-sounding Taylor acoustic guitar accompanied her voice perfectly. Bryan sang and strummed "Mary, Did You Know?" before giving the stage up to the Ladies Christmas Choir.

Manning recruited the members of the Ladies Christmas Choir just weeks before the performance, and the group only had two weeks to prepare for the big night. Despite the time constraints, the women delivered moving performances of "Away in a Manger" and "Joy to the World."

As the choir left the stage, Manning was joined by her dog Milo and some are youth for an annual tradition for the event. The pooch and children sat next to Manning's rocking chair next to a fake fire. Harris quietly picked a playful jazz version of "Let It Snow" while manning recited the poem, "The Christmas Guest."

Closing out the evening's performances was the powerful voice of Mary Jan McCoy, who shared her vocal talents on the song , "Heaven's Child." Her final notes reverberated a moment in the theatre before the audience could find their hands to applause.

Manning then invited all of the performers out on stage to lead the theatre in a sing along of "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." She gave a special thanks to Rex Tehatre owners Doug and Karen Grimm, who give free use of the theatre for the event each year as a gift to the community.


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