Paramount Theatre — Sunday, Nov. 25 at 3 p.m.
There are holiday shows that are family traditions. Noël, produced by Ames-based Venuworks Theatricals, stands ready to become a new holiday tradition for Eastern Iowa families.
More than two years of work and multiple international collaborations have come together in the new Christmas musical Noël, which makes its debut Nov. 17 at the Ames Center in Minnesota before coming to the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Nov. 25 (3 p.m.; tickets $40-65). Written by international best-selling author Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl series, Half Moon Investigations) with music composed by Liam Bates (Last Passenger), Noël first stepped on stage in 2016 when it was presented as a concert at the National Opera House in Wexford, Ireland, Colfer’s hometown.
Over the next two years, Noël became an expanded Christmas musical, incorporating not only the music and lyrics of the original concert, but a fully enacted story which is currently rehearsing in New York in preparation for its inaugural tour.
Steve Peters, founder, president and producer at Venuworks, said that Noël is a story of “boundless hope.” Set in modern day London, the story centers on Noël, the title character, who is preparing for the starring role in her school’s Christmas musical when her mother goes missing. As Noël searches for her mother — and her Christmas spirit — she meets a cast of characters who are surviving on the street and caring for each other. One of those characters is Nick, who has also lost the spirit of Christmas. As one might expect, it is relationships that eventually restore Noël’s mother to her and the Christmas spirit to both Noël and Nick.
Noël offers a storyline that is at once both moving and humorous, guaranteed to appeal to children and adults alike.
“The magic of the holidays comes through the dialogue and the music,” Peters said. “Throughout the story the audience experiences the values of people as they take care of each other.”
The message of the story? There is warmth in the holidays and in our relationships no matter what is happening.
In addition to a story line that offers a range of emotion, Noël offers outstanding music and incredible voices from all across the nation. Bates is a composer, orchestrator and conductor who has worked with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Bryan Adams and Andrea Bocelli. He brings a virtuosity to the music of Noël. Peters noted that performers from Florida to New York to Michigan have come together to create this talented ensemble.
Colfer’s inspiration for the story came in part from issues Ireland is currently wrestling with related to homelessness.
“I have gained a bit of a platform through my work entertaining people, and I wanted to use it to address social awareness about homelessness,” Colfer said.
He stressed the idea that realizing there are real people behind needs is essential. In writing this story, Colfer had in mind the idea that sometimes it really is the children who can open your eyes to doing good in your community. (Fans of the Artemis Fowl series will recognize Colfer’s belief that children are powerful forces that really can change the world.)
“When your child comes home and tells you about people sleeping in the park; well, the children can really poke holes in the consciousness of their own parents,” he said.
Colfer added that adults and children alike can do a lot of good with small acts; and it is small acts that can make a real difference in the world.