(Dec. 14, 2018) Tony Christ hopes to inspire Worcester County’s children to say “no” to drugs with the second annual “Brian’s Christmas Songbook” show at the Performing Arts Center, this Saturday.
“When I was a 9-year-old kid I was taken to hear ‘Oklahoma,’ the musical, and I’m still humming the tunes,” Christ said. “So, when I produced Brian’s Christmas songbook … I knew we could effectively put something in [children’s] minds and our objective is to prevent them from ever using opioids.”
“Brian’s Christmas Songbook” is based off a holiday album that Christ and several local musicians produced two years ago. It includes traditional carols such as “Mary Did You Know,” “The First Noel” and “O Holy Night,” and other songs with religious undertones like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and the Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn,” as well as a new song added this year, “The Greatest Showman.”
The goal of the event, sponsored Charles Nichols, Buddy Jenkins and Preston Automotive, is to prevent as many people, especially children, from becoming part of an increasing epidemic of drug and opioid abuse.
Christ will narrate the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, while musicians Lauren Glick and Dennis Crawford, Nashville singer Melissa Alesi and the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra perform on stage.
“I think it’s an amazing opportunity for the show to be put on and it’s for a good cause,” Alesi said. “It’s about togetherness and to remind people of what the season means. People are so disconnected today that it’s about getting people together and enjoying some good art. It’s a story of hope for other kids not to do drugs like Brian and end up like he did.”
“Brian’s Christmas Songbook” show and album were named after Christ’s son, who died from a drug overdose in 2004. Christ sees the show as a different way to combat opioid addiction: use music, not scare tactics, to speak to children before they encounter drugs.
“This is not a memorial to Brian. Brian wouldn’t want that,” Christ said. “Brian symbolizes all the lost innocence. We’re trying to touch people emotionally with a story of hope.
“It’s a different way to approach a hideous epidemic,” he continued. “We feel like we’re reinforcing and insulating kids so that hopefully they’ll never do opioids or opioid derivatives.”
Last year, around 700 people attended the inaugural show.
“[Opioid abuse is] not spoken about [enough] and we much rather deal with prevention than treatment or intervention among doctors and supplies because if there’s no demand in the future, there will be no need for people to prescribe or sell it illegally,” Christ said. “That’s where we’re putting our effort … in prevention. We sought to contrast that extreme tragedy with a loving caring time of year where families are brought together. It’s a good contrast to drive that subliminal message home.”
“Brian’s Christmas Songbook” will be performed at the Performing Arts Center on 40th Street inside the Ocean City convention center on Dec. 15 – guests are encouraged to get to their seats by 3:30 p.m. in time for the 4 p.m. show.
After the show, children will be able to meet with Santa and the performers in the lobby.
Tickets cost $10 before Saturday, and $20 at the door the day of the show. Currently 500 tickets have already been sold.
For more information, contact Christ at 202-641-6166. To purchase tickets, visit the convention center box office or go to www.ticketmaster.com.