Wow. Star Of Wonder was phenomenal! I mean, really, really phenomenal. The acting was so good and the music was so beautiful…I just can’t even put it into words. The way your entire cast was all-in with the message and how balanced everyone was. I sure hope you are able to do it again next year. I’m going to fly my parents in to see it. Well done. I seriously am at a loss of words at how inspired and moved I feel after experiencing Star of Wonder. - CB
I LOVED being there last night. The story telling and the way you weaved the past and present together was captivating. It was so impactful to me. I was regretting I hadn’t brought any tissues with me! Thank you for sharing your talents both with your music as well as your story telling last night. Thank you for your gift to all of us. - TW
I thought my experience of becoming emotional at last year’s play @starofwondermusical was just a standalone experience and that somehow it could be chalked up to being overly tired or something. Apparently not. That play is powerful. James Conlee, whoever you are, you are a mastermind to write a play that can evoke so much emotion. It is a must see. - AR
A new Christmas Musical called “Star of Wonder” opens this week at the West Valley Performing Arts Center and is destined to become a holiday tradition. After extensive workshops this summer with Broadway Playwright Jill Santoriello (“Tale of Two Cities”) and Broadway Associate Director Jeff Whiting (“The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein”), “Star of Wonder” is now ready for a limited Christmas engagement.Comprised almost entirely of Christmas Carols, “Star of Wonder’’ tells the story of a World War I soldier named Jack who returns home to Oxford in 1919. It is the night of the town’s newly revived Christmas festival after having been canceled for five years because of the war.Jack’s family always sang at the festival and as a child, Jack always participated. But this year...
For more than a decade, Christmas carols were a huge part of the story of James Conlee's career. Now, after a decade of development, he's turning many of those Christmas carols into a musical. Star of Wonder, a world-premiere created by Conlee, weaves several Christmas songs into a narrative, pivoting around a real-life historical event. Jack Lewis, a fictionalized veteran of World War I, has returned home to his family, which has a tradition of putting on a Christmas festival. But Jack resists fully committing to participate as a result of his wartime experience—specifically, because of the "Christmas truce" of 1914, when troops on both sides of the Western Front took a break from fighting to sing carols and honor the day together. Conlee's own relationship with Christmas—at least professionally—has been extensive...
Star of Wonder: A New Christmas Musical heads back to The Rose Wagner Theater after last year's successful run. It features a recently completed Original Soundtrack made up entirely of Christmas Carols. Set in 1919, World War I soldier, Jack, comes home for Christmas for the first time since the beginning of the war. The family's Christmas Festival is underway, but Jack doesn't want to be a part of it. Can the Spirit of Christmas help heal his heavy heart?
Jeanette Isabella, The Three Kings, Good King Wenceslas, The Innkeeper, Angels We Have Heard, While Shepherds Watched... What do all of these carols have in common? Each carol is a story, and each story brings our WWI soldier closer to sharing his story of the miraculous Christmas Eve Truce. Come experience Star Of Wonder and see all of your favorite carols in a whole new light.
C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their literary friends known as the Inklings would sit in this pub, The Eagle and Child, and share ideas. It’s where The Hobbit, Narnia, and Lord of the Rings were born. And it’s where the first version of Star of Wonder came to life – as an imagined Christmas eve filled with carol stories from the Inklings.
The first version was with friends in a pub, but some of the carol's stories were about children: Jeanette Isabella, The Shepherd Boy. So we moved it from a pub to a Christmas Festival. We have the place, now we needed a time. In 1919, just after World War I ended, a town was recovering from its effects and decided to have its first Christmas Festival in 5 years. We have the where and when, we just need a who. In our musical, the Oxford town festival was always put on by the Lewis family (of course). So the new generation of Lewises decide to keep the tradition alive. They begin by welcoming their soldier brother home from the war and by having his nephew and niece take over the parts that the others had played as children.
We have the where, when, and who. What is the why? The festival had been cancelled during the war but it’s time to sing again. The first Christmas back would have been one of celebration and remembrance. As the Lewis family and the musicians at the festival begin to tell the stories behind the carols, one member of the family finds it hard to join in the festivities. Having just returned home, he has in his mind the pain of war mixed with the peace he experienced during the Christmas Eve Truce. He lost so many, but so did the town. Will he find the courage to tell his story and help those who are still suffering? After all the stories are told, Wenceslas, Jeanette Isabella, Shepherds, Wisemen, and Angels, finally a Soldier takes the stage to give those who lost so much a final Christmas present. The vision of a star filled night, when a carol stopped a war.
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