‘Holiday Hits Bandstand’ goes live Friday in Ocean City

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Submitted / The 2012 cast of the Ocean City Theatre Company holiday show, “Holiday Hits Bandstand,” premiering in Ocean City Friday, Dec. 14.  Submitted / The 2012 cast of the Ocean City Theatre Company holiday show, “Holiday Hits Bandstand,” premiering in Ocean City Friday, Dec. 14.

OCEAN CITY —With brand new songs and an exciting new set, the Ocean City Theatre Company returns this week with “Holiday Hits Bandstand, Ocean City’s Holiday Spectacular!”

The family musical revue appears 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 at the Ocean City Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace and the Boardwalk.

The high energy song and dance tribute to the holidays is directed and choreographed by Michael Hartman, artistic director for the Ocean City Theatre Company. Hartman said he hopes the holiday extravaganza helps the community shake some of the post-Hurricane Sandy devastation by providing some joy.

“It’s an annual tradition, and this year, more than ever, we really need to do all we can to have some fun, get together with others, relax and enjoy some good theater,” Hartman said.

Hartman said the new show offers a “musical journey through old favorites.”

“The entire show is based around a juke box on the stage,” he said.

The juke box lights up and plays different genres of music for 90 minutes, including pop, disco, country, classical and rock ‘n’ roll.

“The juke box picks the music at random,” he said.

“There’s a lot of dancing and more costumes than ever,” he said.

There are 16 costume changes and 30 songs. Some of the costumes are outfitted with LED lights.

This will be the first time the OCTC has utilized special effects in the wardrobe department.

During Hurricane Sandy, the costume shop was unharmed, but the scenery shop on the alley behind West Avenue was flooded and some of the scenery was lost.

Julia Wilson, a fourth grader at the Ocean City Intermediate School who has made numerous public appearances in the past year, has a starring role in the show.

“It starts off in Toyland, and one of the professional actors sings her a lullaby,” Hartman said.

Sadly, children at school have informed her that Santa Claus is not real and she’s not quite ready to be a non-believer.

“The professional actor tells her it’s up to her to believe. As an adult, he says he still believes in Santa, in the spirit of Christmas,” Hartman said.

Julia falls asleep and wakes up to find Santa and the reindeer in her bedroom. Barbie and Ken and Raggedy Ann join in the excitement.

“It’s pretty fun, and very tender,” Hartman said. “It’s really nice for people who don’t have kids anymore. You miss that when the kids grow up and it really takes you back in time.

“Julia lets Christmas unfold. You can feel the magic, it’s really very sweet,” he said.

There are many “triple threats” in the show, talented professional performers who can sing, dance and act.

“People will recognize a lot of the performers, and there will be some new faces,” he said. “Over the years, people have come to recognize and love some of our performers. They love coming to Ocean City for the holidays. If you can’t be with your own actual family, it’s nice to be able to be in family-friendly Ocean City.”

Actor Jeff Wojcicki said he couldn’t wait to leave the city to be seaside for the holidays.

“After working with OCTC over the summer, it’s exciting to be in Ocean City during the holiday season because we able to experience the core of this community and its peaceful nature,” he said.

Living in New York City, actor Nick Palazzo said he was fortunate to have been spared by the storm, but his heart was with Ocean City.

“I was afraid that the show in Ocean City would have been canceled,” he said. “But, now that I am here, I think that our Christmas show might be just what the community needs. ‘Holiday Hits Bandstand’ is a great way to distract some people from what they may have lost in the storm and for a short time they can focus on the holiday spirit and creating memories.”

Hartman said everyone in the family is welcome.

“No matter what your age, there’s something that you can walk away with,” he said. “There’s something for everyone.”

Free parking is available. Admission is $18 for adults and $15 for kids under 12. For tickets, call 525-9300, see www.ocnj.us or visit the City Hall. Holiday Hits Bandstand is sponsored by Gillian’s Wonderland Pier.

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