Thursday, December 13, 2012

For Immediate Release:                            December 13, 2012

Further Information:                                 Linda Graves, Haugh Performing Arts Center, 626-852-8045

                                                                   Paula Green, Office of External Relations, 626-914-8873


Citrus College’s Christmas Is Features First Legacy Santa

For the first time in the 38-year history of Citrus College’s annual Christmas Is holiday extravaganza, the role of Santa Claus is being played by the son of a former Santa. 

Garrison Holder, a second year member of the Citrus Singers, plays the jolly messenger of seasonal cheer, singing the classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to dozens of children from the audience who join him onstage.  His father, Christopher Holder, was the first Citrus College student to don the beard and red suit in the 1974 production of what was then entitled Christmas Is for Children Young and Old.

“That first show was really an experiment,” claims veteran producer and choreographer, Rey O’Day, who directed the premiere event. 

“Citrus had only been doing The Wonder of Christmas that is now the first half of Christmas Is. I had this idea of using the Citrus Singers do a fully-produced musical with a story and, of course, an appearance by Santa Claus.” 

Ben Bollinger, founder of the Citrus Singers, eagerly embraced the project and a tradition was born.  What began as a one-weekend performance in 1974 has now grown to eight standing-room-only public shows annually at the Haugh Performing Arts Center, plus three morning performances for area schools.

“The program has evolved over the years,” adds Douglas Austin, current director of the Citrus Singers, who creates the new musical each year with John Vaughan, Citrus College dance instructor and choreographer.  “The technology is better so we can do things like making the actors fly, for instance, and we can use our in-house state of the art recording studios to prepare some of the special effects.” 

This year’s production includes aerial gymnastics, glittering sets and costumes, fifty singers and dancers, handbells and a full orchestra. 

The renowned Citrus Singers program, which is an academic course of study in vocal technique, dance, and musicianship, served as a good springboard for its inaugural Santa.  Christopher Holder went on to a television career that included contract roles on “The Young and the Restless” and “All My Children” as well as appearances in movies and over fifty musicals.  Today, he is the senior assistant instructor at the prestigious Ivana Chubbuck Studio in Hollywood, where his former students include Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron. 

Garrison, who has aspirations of becoming an opera singer, manages to schedule time for his academics, despite the rigorous holiday schedule.   “You have to plan ahead, take lots of Vitamin C, and carry a pillow so you can catch a nap in the van while we’re traveling,” he said.

When asked if his dad gave him any good tips about being the new Santa Claus, Garrison said, “Yeah.  Be careful not to get your beard stuck on anything.  And, when you invite the children up on stage, choose the first, most eager kid to sit on your lap for the song – that’ll be the best one.”

The final three performances of Christmas Is are Friday, December 14 at 8 PM, Saturday December 15 at 2 PM and Sunday December 16 at 2 PM.  Admission is adults, $22; seniors/students, $20; age 16 and younger, $15.  Limited tickets are still available at the Box Office (626) 963-9411 or