In the tradition of all great variety style shows, the cast and crew of St. Marys’ own Front Porch Show decided that a ‘Christmas Special,’ was in order after a wildly successful, innaugural run this past summer.
Three months in the making, host and creater, John Stevens challenged his team at every step of the way.
“There are three intangibles in producing a show like this you want to avoid,” explains the shows producer Robert Edney, ” Working with live animals, large groups of children and inclement weather….John wanted all three.”
The weather went above and beyond the call of duty by providing a warm, winter evening and a Supermoon. The children, guided by vocal teacher Summer Weiler, were on cue and on key, and the animals provided the perfect foil to Stevens’ affectionately, bumbling and humble character.
“John is absolutely at his best when he is put on the spot,” explains co-host Don VanGalen. Perhaps understating his own role, as the chemistry between himself, musical director Frank St. Germain and Stevens undeniably drives the show and creates those “magic moments” that the studio audiences come to see.
The show included the regular segments viewers have come to expect such as Marie Stevens’ Community Calendar, VanGalen’s ‘Alternate Facts,’ and the opening and closing theme songs from St. Germain.
After a variety of guests and musical guests, videographer Fern Pridham handed the camera to stage hand Joseph Flynn, while she and VanGalen performed ‘Baby, Its Cold Outside,’ and brought the house down.
Much like any well produced Christmas Special there were moments that were highly emotionally charged. Stevens paid tribute to Ollie, the family dog, a regular on the show throughout the summer, bidding him a fond farewell.
Towards the end of the show Stevens’ marvelled at the attendance and remarked, “Our first show we had about 30 people in the audience, and it was a beautiful warm summer evening. Tonight there are about 250 people here on a dark, winter evening to celebrate Christmas in St. Marys with us. Thank you.”
“Once you get used to the idea that the magic happens despite the best laid and well rehearsed plans, it gets easier,” explains floor director Jeff Cubberly, who was thrown into the role when Maggie Whitcroft shifted her role to media director.
Whitcroft, because of her limited availability, felt she served the show better with her considerable expertise in the field of social media. Attendance Sunday evening would certainly bear that to be true.
Live commercials are another signature feature of the show, and sometimes, they can be a highlight, as Mary and Casey from Sun Rayz proved. Casey became a one-man fashion show, peeling one layer after another off until he was down to his boxers in the cold night air. The crowd roared their approval with fits of laughter and applause.
St. Germain closes the show with his signature, “Home St. Marys.” A song so catchy, even first time attendees to The Front Porch Show are singing along.
With his inimitable and unintentional charm, Stevens has created an institution residents of St. Marys are proud to call their own. 250 lawn chairs on a December can’t be wrong.