The magic of Christmas, Medora come together for special area performances

A Magical Medora Christmas thrilled audiences last year at selected locations in the area. Now they are back again this holiday season with 28 shows in 22 communities — including a handful in western Minnesota.

The entertainers in A Magical Medora Christmas include Bill Sorensen (left) and Jared Mason (right) both performed in last year’s shows and are excited to return with a new show this year. Contributed photo

“This year’s show features some amazing artists including the amazing Emily Walters, the multi-talented former Broadway Star Jared Mason, and the wonderful Broadway soloist Job Christenson,” said Bill Sorensen, who adds some light-hearted comedy and a little magic throughout the night. Sorensen has been part of the Medora scene for 40 years.

This is third year the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) has brought A Magical Medora Christmas to smaller, intimate venues. This year, the shows will be held in North and South Dakota, Montana and western Minnesota (show times on Page 8B).

“The first year we did this, in 2015, it was our 50th anniversary of doing our shows in Medora. It was a way for us to come out and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and thank them for all the wonderful years supporting Medora,” said Sorensen. 

The plan was to just have the show in North Dakota, but then something happened.

“The show went berzerko!” said Sorensen. “So we decided to expand the show and add more cities on our tour last year. And we have added more this year. We had a lot of fun last year and are really looking forward to this year’s shows.”

The biggest reason why A Magical Medora Christmas has been successful the past two years has been the talented performers, said Sorensen, and that holds true for this year’s show.

“The show has some extremely talented people in it,” said Sorensen. “Extremely talented.”

Jared Mason has performed as a Burning Hills Singer and featured vocalist in the Medora Musical. Since his time in Medora, Jared has become an award-winning recording artist, composer and actor, and recently starred on Broadway as Jerry Lee Lewis in the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet. He also stars in his own  show in Medora called, Jared Mason: Live!

“Jared Mason is a big time star, “ said Sorensen. “When I went out to see him on Broadway, he was a Tony Award winning performer on Broadway. He told me, ‘I don’t like this. I’m a small town guy.’ I asked him if he wanted to come back to Medora and he was happy to do it. Just to tell you how talented Jared Mason is, he has tried out for two shows on Broadway and got the lead in both of them.”

And he has a hidden talent as well.

“Believe it or not, Jared is also one of the world’s best yodelers. He travels around the world and yodels at different events. So we will probably let him do some yodeling as well.”

Emily Walter, also known as the “Queen of the West” is a veteran of the United States Air Force and was the lead vocalist with the Strategic Air Command Band. She also served in the “Desert Band” during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Walter has performed 10 years as a guest entertainer with select cruise lines. She recently did a tribute to Karen Carpenter in Mesa, Arizona, for Showtune productions, and has worked with such stars as Bob Hope, Lee Greenwood and John Denver.

“Emily has traveled and performed all over the world,” said Sorensen. “She is an amazing talent.”

Walter returned to Medora to host the Musical in 2010. She continued in that role through 2015 and made North Dakota her home. She currently hosts the Medora Gospel Brunch, which will be back for its third season in 2018.

Actor, singer, and dancer Job Christenson, a native of Grand Forks, N.D., has co-hosted the Medora Musical and starred on Broadway.

Sorensen said Christenson has quite a life story to tell. When he was just 34, he suffered a stroke that affected his body and his speech. After rehabilitation, Christenson’s voice is now back to 100 percent, said Sorensen.

“Job is one of the finest singers North Dakota has ever produced; he has an incredible, soaring tenor voice,” said Curt Wollan, long-time producer of the Medora Musical.      As for Sorensen, he has produced and appeared in The 4M Review variety show in Medora for 30 years. As a magician, juggler and public speaker, Sorensen has performed over 5,000 shows nationwide.

Sorensen served as the co-host of the Medora Musical for three years. Due to a last-minute diagnosis of throat cancer he was unable to host in 2016. Last summer, while he received radiation treatments during the week, he was still able to return to Medora on the weekends to give the inspirational message in the new Medora Gospel Brunch.

“I’m the magician,” Sorensen said, “but what’s really magical is bringing Emily, Job, and Jared’s holiday entertainment — and a taste of Medora — to folks across the state. I can’t wait.”

Emily Walter performed in last year’s shows and is excited to return with a whole new show. Contributed photo

If the response to the shows in anything like it was last year, the tickets will go quickly. 

“Bill, Emily and Jared created something very special in 2015,” said Randy Hatzenbuhler, TRMF president. “Though it was created to cap the 50th anniversary and celebrate our all-time record year at the Medora Musical, it was quickly obvious that it needed to be an annual show. We are excited to help bring this heart-warming production to even more venues across North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and beyond this Christmas season.”

Nearby area shows include:

Fargo, N.D. Fargo South High School, Monday, Dec. 4, and Tuesday, Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. Tickets available online at medora.com and at First International Banks.

     Wahpeton, N.D., NDSCS Harry & Ella Stern Cultural Center, Bremer Bank Theater, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m. Tickets available online at medora.com and Econofoods in Wahpeton.

Detroit Lakes, Minn., Detroit Lakes Middle School Auditorium, Friday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at medora.com and at the Historic Holmes Theatre.

Park Rapids, Minn, Park Rapids High School, Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m., Tickets available online at medora.com and at the Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

Alexandria, Minn., Lake Geneva Christian Center, Saturday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m., Tickets available online at medora.com and at Elden’s Food Fair.

Henning, Minn., Henning High School Gym, Sunday, Dec. 17, at 4 p.m. Tickets available online at medora.com and at the Henning Landmark Center.

Sorensen is looking forward to the performances and getting a chance to meet some of the people in attendance.

“We hope that people can come out to our shows and so we can say thank you and Merry Christmas,” said Sorensen, “And hopefully this will be a good opportunity for those who have not been out to Medora to get a taste of what we are all about.”

For more information about the show, or to order tickets, go to www.medora.com