Sutton Foster, Hugh Bonneville Featured in Christmas with the Choir
Tony Award-winning actress Sutton Foster and renowned actor Hugh Bonneville, of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece, star as guest musical artist and narrator, respectively, in the annual holiday special Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The special, which airs Monday, December 17 at 8:00 p.m. and Christmas night at 10:00 p m. on KUED, has been the top-viewed PBS holiday program nearly every year for the past 14 years.
Foster and Bonneville join the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, Bells on Temple Square Handbell choir, Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble, dancers and actors in an elaborate, Victorian-themed program that celebrates the Christmas season through music, dance, storytelling, and pageantry.
“I’ve always associated the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Christmas, so it was truly an honor to take part in this wonderful tradition, which is unlike anything else I’ve done before,” says Foster. “There’s something that happens when you stand on the stage and you’re sharing this experience not only with the Choir and Orchestra, but with the 21,000 people that attend each night.”
“It’s a rare and extraordinary experience,” adds Bonneville.
The program highlights the musical achievement and artistic diversity of Foster and the Choir with powerful arrangements of holiday carols such as “Joy to the World,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Christmas Time is Here,” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Silent Night,” and “Angels from the Realms of Glory.”
Bonneville rounds out the program with a reading of the Christmas story from Luke 2, and a spellbinding account of the tragic true story of a night at sea in 1873 and its aftermath for the composer of the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” and his family. Composer Christian Horatio Spafford wrote the hymn after his four daughters and wife died in a shipwreck at Christmastime en route to Paris, where Spafford expected to join them.
“Both Sutton and Hugh are truly among the smartest, most passionate and talented artists today, so to have both of them perform with us was really a dream come true and a great honor,” says Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. “Each guest brings their distinctive gifts and talents, and this program is uniquely special thanks to Sutton’s immense vocal artistry and sparkling personality paired with Hugh’s charismatic delivery and stage presence.”
“Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir” has been a Temple Square tradition since 2000, but first aired on PBS in 2004 with performances by American mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel. It has continued each year since, featuring prominent musical artistsincluding Audra McDonald, Renée Fleming, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Natalie Cole, David Archuleta, Deborah Voigt, Santino Fontana, Laura Osnes, and Rolando Villazón. The program has been narrated by such esteemed guests as David McCullough, Jane Seymour, John Rhys-Davies, and Walter Cronkite among others.
“Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir” marks Foster’s second PBS appearance. Earlier in 2018, she starred in a solo concert on Live from Lincoln . In his role as Robert Crawley on Downton Abbey, Bonneville became a fan favorite. He also hosted From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2018 on PBS, which rang in the new year with the Vienna Philharmonic at the opulent Musikverein.