‘Holiday Spectacular’ rings in the season with joyful dance, theater and music performances


Kenny Ellis, left, and Aaron Ellis perform "Swingin' Dreidel" during the 2nd annual Holiday Spectacular presented by the Moorpark College Performing Arts on Dec. 7. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Madina Safdari

An ambitious collaboration took place between Moorpark College’s Theater, Dance and Music departments to hold the 2nd Annual Holiday Spectacular. Shows ran from Dec. 6-8 in the Performing Arts Center and consisted of a medley of acts from each department to ring in the holiday season.

The variety show included Christmas and Hanukkah themed songs, comedy skits, improv dance, as well as chamber and wind ensemble performances.

Members of the Moorpark College Wind Ensemble preform "Laurence of Arabia" and "Wrong Note Rag" during the Holiday Spectacular at Moorpark College on Dec. 7. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The director of the show and Theater Arts Department Chair, John Loprieno shared that the goal was to bring joy to the local school district community while also showcasing the vast talent students posses at Moorpark College.

“Originally in its original conception it was about showcasing the performing arts and bringing the community into the campus, so that’s that’s kind of the greater goal here … So it’s just a great way for all of our students to really understand the power and depth of the PAC,” Loprieno said.

Similar to last year’s performance, there were over 100 students involved in the production. This year however, Loprieno branched out to include involvement from other schools and departments. The Moorpark College EATM program brought animals on stage, California State University Channel Islands had their own dance numbers and the chamber ensemble covered classical symphonies. DJ’s from the Music Technology Department and the Moorpark College spirit squad had routines as well.

Pi McAuliffe, left, and Seth Gunawardena, right, preform the first part of "Sisters" during the Holiday Spectacular at Moorpark College on Dec. 7. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Hosting the show with charisma and holiday cheer were theater arts students Taylor Bass and Michelle Renee Harris. Bass and Harris were integral parts of the production, both this year and last, and were workshopping the script the entire fall semester up until opening night.

“The script changed quite a bit … We had to cut a couple of things, some things were kind of made longer, we had to improvise a bit here and there,” Harris explained. “It’s a thrill really, when you’re up on stage, and I’m happy to do it, stress and all.”

The Holiday Spectacular was a joyous event for friends and family and helped usher in excitement for the holidays. Moorpark College student Maisam Barakat was particularly moved by the father and son performance of “Swingin’ Dreidel” from Aaron Ellis and Kenny Ellis.

“It was very heartwarming to see people of all faiths come together. Seeing the father-son duet truly made my night,” Barakat said.

The event was an impressive showcase of talent and displayed cross sections within the Performing Arts that will surely attract enthusiastic audiences to future events.

The Ensemble cast pose with an inflatable snowman at the end of the Holiday Spectacular performance on Saturday, Dec. 7. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

“When I see people in the lobby, and I hear them say ‘Oh my gosh, my student’s in music, but I never knew that you had such an amazing dance program’ or ‘I never knew that you had kids who could sing and do the comedy.’ It’s fun for me to see people really understand, you know, how vibrant the performing arts are here at Moorpark,” Loprieno praised.