On Dec. 4, Sarah Brightman brings the spirit of Christmas, a symphony, a choir and a lot of great songs to Ocean Resort and Casino in Atlantic City.
On Dec. 4, Sarah Brightman brings the spirit of Christmas, a symphony, a choir and a lot of great songs to Ocean Resort and Casino in Atlantic City. sarahbrightman.com

Casino File: Sarah Brightman’s big holiday show hits Ocean Casino Resort; Big jackpots hit at Live! casinos

The British musical-theater legend speaks with Chuck Darrow about bringing her popular Yuletide program to the Colonies for the first time.

How massive is Sarah Brightman’s A Christmas Symphony, the holiday-themed musicale she’s bringing to Ocean Casino Resort Dec. 4? So big that she couldn’t give a definitive answer when asked to quantify the cast of singers and musicians who’ll join her on stage at the gambling den’s Ovation Hall. But that’s the way the “popera” megastar rolls, especially when it comes to her holiday extravaganza which, for the first time, she’s staging in the United States.

“We've got a great orchestra and choir because people always associate Christmas with choirs and orchestras and all of that stuff,” said Brightman, speaking transatlantically from what she described as “a very leafy street in London.”

As for what she and her support crew will be doing at Ocean, Brightman explained she “wanted to tick all the boxes. It was very important, because Christmas is an emotional time for people and it's very personal. So I really went through the repertoire; [we] picked all sorts of pieces: Some necessarily religious, but very festive; some [songs] of my own that fitted into the sort of festive spirit. And other pieces that are just fun, Christmas pieces.”

If there is a wild card in the set list, it’s “I Believe in Father Christmas,” a seasonal, classic-rock staple by the late Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer (fun fact: Brightman divulged the first album she ever bought was the prog-rock trio’s Brain Salad Surgery). She explained she favors it for its point of view, which she noted, calls out the commercialization of the holiday. She added she’s also including it because it’s the antithesis of a traditional carol like “Silent Night,” and because “it has that wonderful [piece of music by 20th-century Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev] in it.”

Because of the sheer number of Christmas tunes that exist, it’s not surprising that devising a set list was somewhat of a challenge for Brightman.

“It took a lot of work,” she said. “The thing is, at the end of the day, they have to be pieces you're passionate about, and they have to be pieces that you can sing and that suit your voice. So, that was really how I ended up [deciding].

“But they were pieces that I chose because I loved them and they make you feel Christmasy. And I just love hearing them at that time of year.”

Nonetheless, there will be some non-holiday tunes in the repertoire: After all, many fans might see her in Grinchian terms if Brightman didn’t pay homage to Phantom Of the Opera, for which she created her career-making role of Christine, and which was written by her ex-husband, Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“I always do it…because I never understand it when I go and see a concert and the artist [doesn’t do a signature song],” she reasoned. “I get really disappointed, so I always do it.”

For tickets, click here.

Live! patrons strike it rich

It will be a particularly good holiday season for two folks who raked in big bucks on opposite ends of Pennsylvania last weekend.

On Nov. 20, a player identified as Daniel J. of Holland, Pa., scored $379,145 at an Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em table at Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia. He hit the progressive jackpot by placing an optional $5 side bet before making a royal flush from his two cards and the first three community cards.

Just one day later at Live! Casino Pittsburgh, Michael Z. of Addison, Pa. won the $311,020 Blazing 7’s progressive jackpot by placing an optional $5 side bet and having his first two cards plus the dealer’s face card all come up as 7 of diamonds. His payout is the largest since the gaming hall opened last November.

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