It looks as if an army of elves has been doing an â€œExtreme Makeover:
Theater Editionâ€ on the elegant mirrored-and-gilt lobby of certain former movie palace in Uphams Corner. The temporary peppermint red and white color scheme and twinkling trees are all part of the lavish preparations for the free annual â€œStrand Wonderlandâ€ family afternoon, scheduled for this Saturday, Dec. 19, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Earlier this week, hundreds of schoolchildren flocked to the showplace at 543 Columbia Road for the 17th annual performance of â€œThe Nutcrackerâ€ by Boston Dance Company, with a large ensemble of young local ballerinas. Since then staffers from the Mayorâ€™s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events have been feverishly festooning the former Harriet McCormack Center for the Arts.
They are welcoming Dot neighbors to the Strand to celebrate the holiday season with hot chocolate, candy canes, arts & crafts, classic holiday films, and a sing-along led by costumed carolers. There will be pictures with everyoneâ€™s favorite visitor from the North Pole, and Mayor Menino himself will flip the switch on the Uphams Corner Christmas Tree.
The list of the afternoonâ€™s entertainers is so impressive that youâ€™ll find yourself checking it twice to make sure itâ€™s real. Many of the performers come from right here in Dorchester.
The Ashmont-based Boston City Singers, the ensemble profiled on the front page of last weekâ€™s Reporter, will send a group of Dot youngsters, who according to BCS Artistic Director Jane Money, â€œwill be singing two pieces with singer / songwriter Mike Verge, including one of Mikeâ€™s own compositions, â€˜Let It Be Christmas.â€™ â€œ
Other seasonal favorites will be performed by students from John Paul II Catholic Academy (Neponset Campus), under the direction of Mary Swanton.
In a strictly instrumental vein, the Roland Hayes School of Music Senior Jazz Combo will entertain with jazz standards and a few holiday selections. Kadeem Roberts (guitar) lives in Roxbury, but the other three members of the quartet hail from Dorchester: Marcus Samuel (piano), Anthony Brandao (bass guitar), and Franz Redway (drums).
Expect a more traditional sound from the Bay Back Bell-Ringers, Bostonâ€™s leading community-based handbell ensemble. During their 15-20 minute performance, this nimble-wristed quartet will chime their way through everything from foreign language classics like â€œO Tannenbaumâ€ and â€œIn Dulci Jubiloâ€ to familiar carols like â€œDeck the Hallsâ€ and â€œWe Wish You a Merry Christmasâ€ to gospel-flavored selections like â€œGo Tell It on the Mountainâ€ and â€œMary, Did You Know?â€
Balancing out all these musical offerings will be the performance of a short play, â€œVisions of Sugar Plums,â€ by the City Stage Company.
Definitely sounds like a plan to â€œfrolic and play, the Eskimo way,â€ checking out the Mayorâ€™s Wonderland.