What the season's all about

(Published Nov. 30, 2006, 5:00 p.m.)

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

"This is the kind of music that touches your heart and puts you in the right mood and frame of mind to be able to really appreciate life and this time of year."

That's how Bob Wang describes his upcoming show, "A John Denver Christmas Special featuring Bob Wang," a Good Company production to be performed at the Chapel on the Hill opening Dec. 8.

Wang, guitarist and vocalist, will be accompanied by Steve Jones, percussionist and vocalist, as they perform some of Denver's originals, Denver's Christmas favorites and a few more holiday classics.

Wang put together "A John Denver Christmas Special" for several reasons, he said.

"When I was first learning to play the guitar I cut my teeth on John Denver songs," he began. "His music is comforting, soothing and uplifting.

"I have wonderful memories of the Christmas shows he used to do made for TV, particularly the one he did with the Muppets. So those songs have become part of my annual holiday repertoire."

This is the time of year set aside especially to appreciate life, our loved ones and enjoy ourselves a little. But oftentimes it becomes an endless string of to-dos and extra chores creating the complete opposite effect.

"Everybody is coming from routines, stress and the holiday rush," Wang continued. "This concert will give them the chance to experience the holiday season in a relaxed way. Hopefully this will slow you down enough to be able to deal with the rush, the rat race and the chaos of the season.

"That's not what it's about - it's about peace on earth and taking the time to sit back to enjoy the season."

The stage will resemble an everyday living room at Christmastime complete with a Christmas tree and fireplace, very much like the Christmases Wang remembers from his own past.

"The songs mellow you out," he said. "There's a certain appeal there; the folk style lends itself to a small gathering in the family room.

"This show is put together dedicated to (Denver) and in the style that he would have done it," he said. "Wholesome, down-to-earth and homey."

Wang performs at many locations including PM&L Theater in Antioch, Ill., where he performed this very show last year. He also serves as the pastor at Somers Community United Church of Christ in Somers.

Some of the songs audiences will hear were written by Denver himself including "A Christmas Wish," "Christmas for Cowboys" and "A Baby Just Like You," and the traditional other classics that have become holiday staples. The audience will even be invited to join in a few.

"I hope people will come and their hearts will be warmed and they will be touched in ways that will enhance their holiday experience, be put in the holiday mood and go home singing."

"A John Denver Christmas Special featuring Bob Wang" runs Dec. 8-9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. at the Chapel On The Hill, N2440 Ara Glenn Drive, Lake Geneva. For tickets or more information call 245-0202 or 245-9122.

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