The sounds of Christmas will fill the air on Wednesday, December 20, when Re-Creation brings their holiday show, “Believe,” to Hamburg. There is no charge to attend the 7 p.m. show, which will be held at the Journey Café, 320 Pine Street.
The concert will feature nine young adult performers, and one of them is local resident Tyler West. He joined the cast shortly after graduating from Hamburg Area High School in 2017.
“I am definitely looking forward to performing in Hamburg,” West said. “I always love when I can perform for my family and friends, and I think they will really enjoy our Christmas program!”
West and his castmates have presented “Believe: the Christmas Suite” as they’ve toured across the United States. The hour-long holiday-themed show includes a combination of classic carols and holiday favorites, new songs and audience sing-alongs.
“My favorite part of the Christmas show is torn between ‘The Christmas Waltz’ and ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” West said, adding, “If you want to know why I love ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ you will just have to see the show and find out for yourself. It’s an incredibly fun section with all of the crazy costumes!”
The Believe show is one of several the performers present in their year-long tour. Other show themes include patriotic, faith-based or decades selections, and almost every performance includes unique twists.
West’s mother, Heidi Warmkessel, has enjoyed seeing several of the shows in venues including churches and community fairs.
“You see these 18 to 22 year olds that spend the year on the road, and they do everything themselves,” she said, pulling out her phone to show some of her favorite of their numbers. “They’re just amazing.”
In 1976, Re-Creation founder Penn State University instructor Hugh Brooks began the group to provide the therapeutic entertainment to residents of prisons, hospitals and nursing homes. Soon after, they began touring through the USO. Since the 1980s, the group emphasizes programs for veterans and today are America’s Ambassadors to Hospitalized Veterans.
To that end, the group provides 150 shows to veterans across the United States. In addition, they perform hundreds of other concerts to communities in all 50 states, including the Dec. 20 concert in Hamburg.
While attendance at this show is free, a love offering will be taken to help cover tour costs.
All of the Re-Creation performers, including two sound men, are volunteers for the full-time job. Warmkessel notes they get a stipend to cover basic living costs, such as food or lodging and the public is invited to sign up to sponsor them individually.
“They also get hosted by some of the places they go, staying with families,” she said.
Friends and families can also sponsor the performers, which tour from a base in Port Terverton, Pa.
West emphasized how much he has enjoyed being a part of Re-Creation.
“Touring with the group has probably been the best experience of my life so far,” he said. “I have grown so much and there are so many amazing experiences to be had when visiting the veteran care facilities.
“There have been quite a few challenges, especially when some of us aren’t feeling well during the show, but the show must go on. Sometimes this is the only time a veteran may be able to see our show so we always give all that we can.”
Warmkessel added, “I honestly think the thing he likes the most is meeting the veterans, talking to them and hearing their story. I don’t think I could be more proud of what he’s chosen to do.”
For further information on Re-Creation, contact the organization at 570-374-1909 or visit Re-CreationUSA.org. In January, the group will take its tour south to Florida but they are expected to return for another concert at Hamburg Area High School in 2018.