Michael Veldman and Friends will return to the Paramount Theatre for their 10th year this December. Photo provided
Michael Veldman and Friends will return to the Paramount Theatre for their 10th year this December. Photo provided

Archived Story

Veldman and friends to return; tickets go on sale Saturday

Published 11:00am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

There will be another Christmas to remember, when calendars turn to December. After all, Austin’s artistic sweethearts are coming back by popular demand.

Wait for it, wait for it. Michael Veldman and Friends are rehearsing their tenth anniversary show at the Historic Paramount Theatre.

Michael Veldman and Friends call the holiday show, appropriately enough, A Christmas to Remember.

The performers — Michael Veldman, Kaye Perry, Erin Schumacher and Brian Bawek — have become household names in Austin; four parts to a whole.

“The other day a woman said to me ‘Hi Kaye’ and I didn’t know her name. It happens all the time,” said Perry. “Especially at this time of the year, people recognize us wherever we go,” added Bawek.

That recognition comes with good reason: More and more families, plus a growing audience in the Upper Midwest, plan their holiday celebrations around the holiday show. Busloads come from Albert Lea, Rochester, Minneapolis, Des Moines and beyond.

Dick McIntosh was there in the beginning. The former Paramount longtime board member and president has attended every show. “It was a perfect fit for the Paramount from the start and they quickly developed a cult following,” McIntosh said. “It also helped the Paramount through the money they raise each year.”

The group has raised money for the city’s entertainment venue since 1998, when a star-studded holiday show attracted 800 fans to a single performance at St. Augustine Catholic Church.

Veldman, executive producer, took the show to the Paramount and Joann Orcutt-Stevens lent her talents as artistic director.

The Paramount’s 623 seats were filled each December for the holiday show beginning in 2001, helping Scott and Janet Anderson in their efforts to raise funds for the theater’s restoration.

After a two-year hiatus in 2011 and 2012, the group decided to return this year.

The holiday show has attracted an estimated 23,000 spectators over a nine-year run.

Mary and Dwayne Hagan have attended eight of the nine shows to date.

Mary Hagan confessed the second half of the holiday show, when the program of music turns from upbeat holiday tunes to more non-secular music leaves her with “goose bumps” and “tears in my eyes.”

“I told Kaye,” she recalled, “I don’t think you realize what you people do for families each Christmas.”

“It was kind of a surprise when we did the first show,” Veldman said. “I think we were thinking that it would be only a one-time deal.”

“It was a surprise to all of us,” said Schumacher, “We didn’t know what to expect.”

A Christmas to Remember will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21. Matinees are scheduled 2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 21.

All seats are $15.

Proceeds will again be shared with the Paramount and the parties are already in negotiations for a return engagement in 2014.

Tickets for the 10th anniversary show go on sale at the Paramount from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. The performers will greet ticket-buyers.

Despite audience approval, the growing fan base and rave reviews, the performers remain humble. “Our gifts are a blessing,” Veldman said.

Why is this a success story? Bawek may have the answer.

“Each year it keeps growing that way until it has become hard for people out of the area to get tickets,” he said. “It just won’t die.”

For more information go to MichaelVeldmanandFriends.com.

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