The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Best of Branson

November 9, 2012

New Christmas musical at Silver Dollar City based on favorite holiday movie

BRANSON, Mo. — Brad Schroeder understands why, for many, Silver Dollar City's "An Old Time Christmas" is a family tradition.

"I think that it's all in one location," said Schroeder, who produces many of the park's theatrical productions. "All the good things about Christmas are captured at Silver Dollar City. There is something for every age group."

Schroeder and the parks staffers know that Christmastime is the park's most popular season.

"Folks marvel at all of the lights, and you can enjoy the food and crafts and see some tremendous Christmas entertainment," he said. "We all love Christmas."

Now through Dec. 30, the park is offering an addition to "A Dickens Christmas Carol," its longtime Broadway-style musical production. But the new show wasn't quick in the making.

"We first started working on the 'It's a Wonderful Life' concept five years ago," said Schroeder. "The assumption was that one of these days our crowds were going to get tired of 'A Dickens Christmas Carol.' We started working on ('Wonderful Life') as a replacement for 'Dickens.'"

Soon the idea changed. Schroeder said that staffers came to a consensus and agreed to keep "Dickens," as long as families kept coming to see it. In its 10th year, the park's musical adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" charmed more that a million show-goers.

"Chances are it will just keep going and going," he said. "Then, the issue was that if it's not going to be a replacement (for 'Dickens'), then what do we do with it?"

Schroeder said it didn't take long until management decided to stage both Christmas shows. It came down to one driving philosophy shared by the production team and the park's management, he said.

"We pride ourselves on telling stories," he said. "Whether it's through our architecture or our craftsmanship, our shows or the theming of our rides, we try to always tell stories."

Adding one more traditional Christmas tale to the list was a no-brainer, he said.

"It made sense to add one more famous Christmas story to the list," said Schroeder. "In addition to 'A Dickens Christmas Carol,' and we have 'The Living Nativity,' the greatest story ever told. We've got 'Frosty,' and now our own unique rendition of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'"

The production crew debuted 10 different Christmas shows last Saturday alone.

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