It's a rare thing — coming up with an original Christmas show, let alone two.
Steve Zediker has scripted his second holiday show with the help of pianist Teri Hammerquist. Following the success he had with his "Christmas Time's A Coming," featuring bluegrass music in 2015, he and Hammerquist started working on "A Celtic Christmas" a year ago. It opens at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 and runs through Dec. 23 at NOVA Center for the Performing Arts.
Zediker, a well-known Billings composer, producer and vocalist, has brought his band, Slainte, into the show, positioning them right up front on stage to showcase their authentic sound. They sing and play Celtic instruments including an autoharp, a concertina accordion and a bodrahn, which is an Irish drum. The band usually jams Friday night at Pug Mahon's, so you could say they've been rehearsing this show for a decade or more.
"Celtic Christmas" is set in an Irish pub on the Isle of Man.
"It's a dark and stormy night on Christmas Eve and people have come to seek shelter," Zediker said. "We will play a lot of traditional Celtic Christmas music."
Featured in the show are local youths from the Dannsairean Dancers group, who will perform Irish jigs, and area vocalists portraying carolers. During rehearsal last week, the dancers were high kicking so fast their legs were a blur.
The cast is diverse, ranging in age from 7 to 70, Hammerquist said.
"We have very seasoned people, like Steve Zediker, Gary Treglown and Shawn Bettise, and we have one woman who is performing in her first show, Hammerquist said.
Bettise plays the bartender and serves as the emcee, ushering people in and out of the family-friendly pub.
Beyond Celtic songs, the production explains the history of traditions of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and features poetry.
There are singalongs and stories, both poignant and preposterous. Hammerquist described the show as fun and reflective.
"You can expect some chuckles and some poignant moments. Some of us are more reflective this time of year, thinking about loved ones we've lost," Hammerquist said. "But mostly, it's just fun."
Ticket prices are $21 for adults, $16 for seniors or members of the military, and $10 for students. To purchase tickets, visit NOVA’s website at www.NOVAbillings.org, call the box office at 591-9535, or stop by at 2317 Montana Avenue. Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.