Magical Medora Christmas tour back for fifth year

Santa Claus is coming to town, and so is “The Magical Medora Christmas Show.”

For the fifth year the Magic of Medora takes to the road this November and December as six popular performers with many years of experience at Medora’s Burning Hills Amphitheater present a family-style holiday extravaganza 30 times in 23 communities in four states, including 7:30 p.m. MT Dec. 2 at Spearfish High School.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support for the Magical Medora Christmas.” said Producer Bill Sorensen, “we can’t wait to bring good, old-fashioned entertainment back across the four state area.”

It was Sorensen, recently retired as host of the Medora Musical, who in 2014 created a Christmas show for Medora’s Cowboy Christmas and in 2015 acted on a dream of taking a Medora-style show on the road during the holiday season. This year, the Communication, Speech and Theater Association of North Dakota selected the show for its “Creative Artist of the Year” award.

Two new performers are joining the cast for this year’s show. They are Kim Willow, who spent five years as a Burning Hills Singer and performed nationally in the hit “Church Basement Ladies,” and Travis Smith of Columbus, Ohio, who has performed across the country including at the Medora Musical and Medora Gospel Brunch.

As in the past, Sorensen will host this year’s show, called “Home for Christmas.” Returning to perform with him are former Medora Musical hosts Emily Walter and Job Christenson and Chad Willow, longtime bandleader at the Medora Musical.

Randy Hatzenbuhler, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) said, “The TRMF is grateful to have folks like Bill Sorensen and his cast mates sharing joy during the Christmas season. The show reflects everything we love about Medora and allows us to bring the spirit of Medora to communities across the region.”

Sorensen provides comedy and magic, and the others will highlight their musical talents. All of them have appeared as featured performers of the acclaimed Medora Musical, and they all have long resumes of entertainment experience. 

Walter, known as “The Queen of the West,” was host of the Medora Musical from 2010 through 2015, and for four years has hosted the popular Medora Gospel Brunch. She is one of a select group approved by the Patsy Cline Estate to portray Patsy Cline. Walter was the lead vocalist in the US Air Force Strategic Air Command Band and served in the “Desert Band” during Desert Shield/Storm. She has worked with such stars as Bob Hope, Lee Greenwood and John Denver. She lives in Bismarck, ND.

Actor, singer, dancer and playwright Job Christenson, a native of Grand Forks, ND, has hosted the Medora Musical and starred on Broadway in Cats, Ragtime, JCS, Joseph, and Billy Elliot, among others. “Job is one of the finest singers North Dakota has ever produced,” said Curt Wollan, long-time producer of the Medora Musical. He worked in productions in Chicago, and was artistic director of the ND Ballet Company. He lives in New York but continues as artistic and development director for Sleepy Hollow Theatre in Bismarck.

Bill Sorensen served as co-host of the Medora Musical for seven years and has been the featured speaker in the Medora Gospel Brunch for four years. Sorensen produced and appeared in the 4M Review variety show in Medora for 30 years and plans to do four shows a week next summer. This is his fifth year producing and starring in the Magical Medora Christmas traveling show. As a magician, juggler and public speaker he has performed over 5,000 shows nationwide. He also served as mayor of Bismarck and state representative.

Minnesotan Chad Willow joined the Magical Medora Christmas Tour in 2017 as pianist, singer, and banjo player. “As associate musical director of the show and leader of the Coal Diggers band for 12 Medora Musical season, I have experienced incredible adventures from my time in this little town tucked away in the North Dakota Badlands,” he says. He produced and recorded a vocal bluegrass record entitled Scarecrow, with musicians from the Medora Musical bandstand stage.

This year, Willow’s wife, Kimberly, a Burning Hills Singer from 2012-2016, joins the Magical Medora Christmas cast. Recently, Kim plays the role of Beverly in the hit Church Basement Ladies series in both national tours and regional theatre around the country. When not onstage, you can find her music directing or band leading. Kim and Chad live in Minneapolis.

Also new to this year’s show is Travis Smith, a composer and arranger who runs his own music production company. Travis writes children’s shows and created a full-scale musical “Steeple People: A Southern Gospel Comedy”.  He is a multi-instrumentalist and has musically directed over a hundred professional theatre productions.

The “Home for Christmas” tour stops in 16 communities in North Dakota, four in Minnesota, two in South Dakota and two in Montana. Tickets for all shows are $30 and are available now at Tickets will also be available locally in some communities.

Forum Communications, TTT Ranch, Vic and Ethelyn Uttke and the TRMF are sponsoring the tour.

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