Music, theater on display Dec. 8 at Livingstone’s Christmas extravaganza

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 18, 2013

Tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall are going for as high as $271 online, but Salisbury residents don’t have to go to The Big Apple to enjoy a Christmas Extravaganza this holiday season.
In fact, they don’t have to go any further than Varick Auditorium on Livingstone College’s campus.
That’s because on Dec. 8 at 5 p.m., the institution’s music and theater students will treat the public to “Miracle on Monroe Street,” an exciting Christmas concert complete with members of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra and a live nativity scene that’s guaranteed to bring out the holiday spirit in everyone.
“Each year we try to produce a Christmas concert that’s worthy of the reason we celebrate the season, that’s worthy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” said Dr. DaVaughn Miller, chairman of the Music and Theater Department. “But to say we’ve outdone ourselves this year is a gross understatement. Led by the vision of our president, Livingstone is putting on a Christmas concert for the ages with outstanding musical and theatrical performances and a live nativity scene to help remind people of the true meaning of Christmas. I’m excited because I know the people who attend Livingstone’s Christmas concert will be talking about it well into 2014.”
Proving Salisbury residents with “something they’ve never seen before” was the brainchild of Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., who’s pulling out all the stops to ensure this year’s Christmas concert will be the best Livingstone has ever produced.
“We’ve had some nice Christmas concerts in the past, but I’m confident this year’s performance will far exceed nice,” Jenkins said. “For a very nominal fee, patrons will be treated to a fantastic show. And before the concert, the college is demonstrating benevolence in a way that truly represents what Christmas is all about.”
Concert tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 12 and under and for senior citizens and free for Livingstone students with valid ID.
Before the concert, Livingstone College faculty and staff will serve a Christmas meal to 25 families in the school’s Events and Hospitality Center. After the meal, toys will be provided for the children and two lucky recipients will receive scholarships to obtain a one-year culinary arts certificate through the college’s Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts Program, run by hospitality industry veteran Vivian Ray. The two winners will be chosen, in part, based on their essays explaining what being awarded a free year of culinary arts training would mean to them and their families.
Last year on Nov. 20, Livingstone faculty and staff provided dinner for several families at the Events and Hospitality Center and sent them home with meals they just had to reheat two days later on Thanksgiving Day.
Rebecca Pendergrass was one of the scholarship recipients at last year’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza, and nowadays she’s getting rave reviews at The Country Club of Salisbury where she’s worked as a line cook since early August.
She will serve as the head chef for Livingstone’s Christmas dinner and also speak briefly at the event.
“I just hope whoever wins the scholarship takes advantage of it the same way I have,” Pendergrass said. “I hope they take it by the horns and run with it.”
Pendergrass credits the culinary arts program at Livingstone College, in part, to her success. Originally from Georgia, she said her specialty is soul food but she also enjoys cooking Italian cuisine. She said if she wasn’t enrolled in Livingstone’s culinary arts certificate program she’d probably be doing hair and makeup — but she’d much rather be working with food.
“My ultimate goal is to be an executive chef in my own establishment,” Pendergrass said. “Of course, I know that’s a long-term goal.”
In the meantime, she’s looking forward to the Dec. 8 Christmas dinner at Livingstone College and to the concert that will follow it. After the concert, a tree lighting ceremony will be held on campus, for which ornaments can be purchased for a nominal fee through the Office of Institutional Advancement. Proceeds will help cover the cost of the Christmas dinner.
Miller said having performances by the institution’s theater and music students, accompanied by members of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, guarantees the 2013 Livingstone College Christmas Concert will be a big hit. He’s been working in conjunction with Director of Bands Sidney C. Sessoms, Jr., and Theater Arts Instructor Michael Connor to finalize the show.
“Livingstone faculty and staff are working diligently to ensure this year’s Christmas Concert is memorable and sets the tone for what we’re all about here at Livingstone College,” Jenkins said. “I often tell our students, faculty and staff that to whom much is given much is required. We’re delighted to be able to put on such a grand show for the citizens of Salisbury and people from neighboring cities and towns, and we’re truly grateful to be able to provide a Christmas dinner and toys for about two dozen families.”