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'Magical Medora': Christmas tour to stop in Grand Forks, Grafton

Grand Forks native and Grand Forks Central High School graduate, Job Christenson, is among five performers who are starring in the Magical Medora Christmas touring show, "It's a Gift," to be presented Monday in Grand Forks and Wednesday in Grafton, N.D. (Submitted photo) 1 / 3
(Submitted image to use with story, 120718.N.GFH.MEDORACHRISTMAS, if needed)2 / 3
Grand Forks native, Job Christenson, is among five performers in the Magical Medora Christmas show, "It's a Gift," presented Monday at the Empire Arts Center, and Wednesday at Grafton (N.D.) High School. (Submitted photo) 3 / 3

The Magical Medora Christmas tour returns to Grand Forks on Monday with a holiday traveling variety show featuring Grand Forks native Job Christenson, who is among the show's five performers—all past or current stars of the Medora Musical.

"It's a Gift" is the theme of this year's show, which is described as "good old-fashioned family-style entertainment" by Bill Sorenson, a magician and comedian who is hosting the show.

"It's a 'feel good show,' with a variety of music," said Misti Koop, a Grand Forks teacher, who is helping publicize the event.

The musical performances range "from bluegrass to country to classics to Stevie Wonder," Christenson said. "We all have our eclectic talents that we bring to the performance."

The show also will feature former Medora Musical host Emily Walter; yodeler extraordinaire Jared Mason; and Chad Willow, longtime band leader at the Medora Musical.

Among the songs that Christenson sings are "I Believe," from the movie, "Polar Express," "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Count Your Blessings," he said.

Mason will perform an original song, "One Wish," by his wife, Noni Mason, that is dedicated to veterans.

Walter sings "God Help the Outcast," and Willow sings "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

Willow and Mason also will present a dueling guitar and banjo piece and a dueling piano piece.

"We work as an ensemble," said Christenson, who has performed in three of the show's four tours, "and we do backup vocals—there are solos in and around that."

Seasoned performers

Christenson and Mason have appeared in Broadway shows, and all the performers have long resumes of entertainment experience, according to a news release.

Christenson, an actor, singer, dancer and playwright who lives in New York, has starred on Broadway and is a former host of the Medora Musical.

"Job is one of the finest singers North Dakota has ever produced," said Curt Wollan, longtime producer of the Medora Musical. "He has an incredible soaring tenor voice."

A graduate of Grand Forks Central High School, Christenson has performed as an actor in "Cats," "Ragtime," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Billy Elliot," among other productions.

He has done numerous benefits and voiceovers in New York, and worked in Chicago, appearing in productions at Marriott Lincolnshire and Chicago Shakespeare.

For six years, he was artistic director of the Crimson Creek Players, forerunner of the Empire Theatre Company, and the North Dakota Ballet Company and Apprentice School, and continues as artistic and development director for Sleepy Hollow Theatre and Arts Park in Bismarck.

Christenson is studying for a master's degree in playwriting and is working on a play trilogy about North Dakota.

Extensive tour

The Magical Medora Christmas show is on an extensive holiday tour, with performances scheduled in 15 North Dakota communities and nine communities in Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana. It opened Nov. 24 in Steele, N.D., and closes Dec. 22 in Bloomington, Minn.

Despite the packed schedule, the tour "is also fun and rewarding," Christenson said, "because you encounter so many people who are grateful for something that reminds them of the true meaning of Christmas, and it's wonderful to be part of that."

Six years ago, in late December, Christenson suffered a "debilitating, massive stroke" which cost him the use of his right side and forced him to use a wheelchair.

His recovery has been "long and arduous," he said, but the stroke "is something that inspires me."

The show's theme of "gifts" is woven throughout the show, he said. "The first gift is the birth of Jesus, but also there's the gift of life."

Coming together with others members of the cast "has been a wonderful experience," he said. "We're like a family, and we're bringing Christmas cheer to much of North Dakota and the surrounding area."

If you go

What: A Magical Medora Christmas

When: 3 and 7:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Empire Arts Center, 415 DeMers Ave.

For tickets, $30 each, contact the Empire Arts Center, (701) 746-5500, www.empireartscenter.com. Special rate is available for groups of 20 or more.

Note: The show also will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Grafton (N.D.) High School. For tickets, contact the Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce, (701) 352-0781.

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