Regular readers of this column know that the Rockbox Theater in Fredericksburg is one of my favorite subjects. I can't help it – I've been a fan since I saw their show in 2008 and my admiration for their professional quality, high standards, and staying power has only grown. Celebrating their five-year anniversary, they're a must-see in Fredericksburg any time of year, and especially now.
The rollicking, frolicking “Christmas at Rockbox” show runs Thursday-Sunday through Monday, December 24. The schedule is a mix of evening shows and matinees, ending with a 2pm matinee on Christmas Eve. There are no shows on December 25 or 26.
The high-energy, family friendly show is a blend of inspirational sacred and rousing secular songs – sometimes at the same time. You might hear the traditional “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” followed by the upbeat “Signed Sealed Delivered He's Born.” There's the usual variety of multigenerational pop, rock, and country tunes, along with a special Christmas twist – the man with the bag himself. Santa opens the second act with three children ages 7-10 who join him onstage from the audience (see their web site for details on this limited time offer).
But wait, as they say – there's more. The fun doesn't stop after Christmas. From December 27-31, Rockbox rings in the New Year with a special show to greet 2013. The cast and crew then takes off two weeks for a well-deserved vacation. Regular shows resume the third week of January.
“Christmas and New Year's are the only two themed shows we do all year,” says Mike Kinchen, partner with Russ Hearn. (Hearn also does triple duty as performer, creative director, and head writer.) “By far our biggest season is the Christmas season,” says Kinchen. This past year saw some cast changes, including the addition of singer and funnyman Larry Delawder and vocal powerhouse Nedgra Culp, recruited from Branson. “We're always changing up the show,” adds Kinchen. “We're looking at adding more cast members.” What won't change is the tribute to veterans that's included in every show. “It's a very important part of what we do.”
Guest artist Jason Catron joins the cast for the entire Christmas run. His style is “part Josh Groban, part Michael Buble.”
The unassuming exterior on Llano Street in the heart of downtown Fredericksburg hides a very cool 10,000 square foot, state-of-the-art theatrical facility that has earned a reputation as “the best kept secret” in this popular Hill Country destination. “Tourism here is growing in general,” says Kinchen, “so we're fortunate that 70 percent of our audiences are still new. Fredericksburg attracts 1.4 million visitors a year, so we have the opportunity to get in front of many new people.”
So before 2012 bows out, make sure you're one of them. You might be in a small town, but this is big city talent. Good music is good music anywhere – and the music is always good at the Rockbox.
For show dates, times, and ticket info: rockboxtheater.com. Toll-free 866-349-6688, local 830-997-7625.