I make no apologies if you were thinking of going to the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s The Ghosts of Christmas Eve: The Best of TSO and More show this year. Indeed it is the “More” part of the show I feel I need to warn you about if you have never been and were expecting “pure Christmas.”
It’s been about ten years since I first saw them—and loved them—with my husband. We were so impressed we bought a few of their CDs and have listened to them over the years during the holidays. We were looking forward to a great stage show of bigger than life Christmas classics and TSO’s signature Christmas pieces to usher in the season. I was especially excited because we were taking our adult son Chris with us. He is a musician. I thought he would be surprised with TSO’s live, powerful rock/metal take on traditional Christmas classics he’d heard growing up that were normally heard in a church and on our holiday CDs.
We excitedly settled into incredible floor seats six rows back from the stage. The huge billowing purple curtain hung just a few feet before us. “It’s going to be wild,” I said, memories of the intense, huge laser light show a decade ago still dancing in my head.
Well, the first hour was the awesome, traditional Christmas TSO that I remembered. Vocalists, bass, six-strings, keyboards, an incredible electric violinist, drums, and back up singers delivered traditional hymns and classic TSO Christmas tunes in grand, thunderous rock/metal style. It is mind-blowing to hear O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night, What Child is This? and classic TSO This Christmas Day and Christmas Canon Rock . (Listen to this if you are not familiar with TSO). You could feel Christmas reverberating right through you.
Like the last time I saw TSO, there was also a booming baritone narrator who lead us through a lovely Christmas story. This one was about a runaway girl who witnessed Christmas miracles while she sought shelter in an abandoned theater.
The lasers were mesmerizing; you could feel a blast of heat with the pyrotechnics. Again, TSO made “real” snow that drifted down onto our heads. That, and the fog transported you to a believable, magical Christmas place.
So what’s my problem?
The second half of the show! Where the first hour and half I was lulled into a most festive frame of mind, I was suddenly (figuratively) thrown into the fires of hell! Gone with the holy, angelic voices and snowy effects. Instead, a giant lizard with rolling golden eyes took over the screen! And it just went down from there. I mean way down. Like to the portal of hell down. Suddenly the women were wearing impossibly shorter, barely crotch-covering dresses. They were gyrating on a catwalk overhead, strapped to a pole with a chain. The stage lit up with awful red/orange lights. Then out shot out the real flames! Way too many and way too close to be cozy. In fact, I could feel my eyeballs drying out in the instant heat. The guitarists seemed more menacing and lewd. At one point the women singers sang/chanted in Omen-esque Latin. They danced in a circle that conjured images of a coven. I imagined that the gates of hell would soon open and Satan himself would take center stage!
Goodbye, Christmas buzz!
I know there are diehard TSO fans out there who will probably think I’m old-fashioned and a jerk, but why did TSO have to even have that second half of the show? Rife with apocalyptic, illuminati-esque symbols on the screen. It was very medieval (evil), very Game of Thrones with the castle motifs (I admit I’ve never seen Game of Thrones). Am I missing out?
I left the Mohegan Sun theater feeling very disturbed, sad, and that I had been subjected to something that felt icky and dark. My husband, son and I discussed the show all the way home later into the night. Chris “googled” TSO and found there were other people who shared some of my observations. I guess I need to clear my palate with something wholesome and Christmassy. Maybe It’s a Wonderful Life marathon? Any suggestions?