Holiday Tradition: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

A cross between a Broadway musical, a rock concert, and a Christmas pagent. A show with (dare I say it) something for everyone!

How do I describe the Trans-Siberian Orchestra?  It’s a mash-up of classical and rock music, has the drama of an opera, and the storyline of a play.  It uses more lasers, fog, and pyrotechnics than most tours dream about.  The complex stage transforms and performers run down the aisles and on catwalks overhead.  It’s unabashedly sentimental between sizzling electric guitar solos.  And it even snows during the show.

A little over the top?  Oh yeah, and then some.

I would expect nothing less from the founder of TSO, Paul O’Neill, who lists Oscar Wilde, Jim Croce, Pink Floyd, and Broadway musicals as some of his influences.  He started TSO in 1993 and their instrumental song “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” became a Christmas favorite, now the second most downloaded Christmas song of all time (Mariah Carey holds the number one spot.)

But it’s their live performances that have earned them a huge following.  You can expect people in elegant formal wear sitting next to heavy metal fans in jeans and tee-shirts.  While many shows claim to have “something for all ages”, this one really lives up to the hype.

They offer other productions on tour throughout the year but it’s their Christmas-themed performances that they are best known for.  This year the show is called “The Lost Christmas Eve.”

This is our 3rd year of attending the Christmas show as a family.  It’s something that the kids look forward to each holiday season.  It's a different experience each time and I hear that they have revamped the entire show this year.

One of my favorite things about TSO is that there is always something unexpected, no matter how many times you've attended.  My favorite was my first time at the show.  The kids and I were hustling through Seattle Center on our way to Key Arena on a chilly afternoon.  I remember rushing past a "homeless" man on the steps to Key Arena who was standing in the middle of the crowd, staring off into the distance, as the people streamed by.  It was unusual enough for me to notice but I didn’t really give him much thought.  Towards the end of the show, he stood up from a seat in the audience and slowly worked his way up to the stage.  Was this part of the show?  Where was security?  It soon became clear that it was part of the storyline and he sang a song about the meaning of the holiday in a sweet and mesmerizing voice.  The message, and how it was delivered, made a profound impact.  There is always something like that in the show and I look forward to what they are going to come up with each year.

This year, there is a show in Spokane at the Spokane Arena on Friday November 23rd, two shows in Seattle at Key Arena on November 24th, and two shows in Portland at the Rose Garden Arena on November 25th Tickets are on sale now.

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