It was standing room only at the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) meeting on Sunday, December 17, for their annual Christmas Program. The room buzzed with chatter and anticipation as a multitude of eager faces waited for the children from the Pattaya Orphanage to appear on stage. Even Scrooge’s ‘bah humbug’ was swept aside as hearts were melted by the oodles of magical Christmas cheer generated by the children.
Adding to the festive nature of the PCEC’s meeting room at the Pattaya Holiday Inn, was a computer-generated backdrop on the three big screens, reminiscent of Christmas past. It was in this wonderland environment that Master of Ceremonies Roy Albiston welcomed the children from the Pattaya Orphanage, Marcus Tristan and Ben Rudolph. He thanked everyone for their support and explained that their donations over the past weeks and months had enabled the Club to purchase individual gifts for the children and additional funds would be donated to the Orphanage on their behalf.
Judith Edmonds, who had orchestrated the collection and purchased the gifts with the able assistance of her husband Les, was given a rousing round of applause and thanked for her tireless efforts.
Enthusiastic applause also echoed throughout the meeting room as six beautiful girls in spectacularly ornate national costume, alighted the stage and performed a traditional Thai dance. Their majestically, graceful movements and soft rhythms, radiated presence. It is said that there are few performances more elegant and graceful than the traditional Thai Dance, and all those present would definitely agree.
The art form is very strict, employing 108 basic movements and keeping the body upright from the neck to the hips, moving up and down using only the knees, and stretching to the rhythm of the music. A great deal of symbolism is displayed in complex and beautifully executed finger and hand movements. All of it blended to produce a hypnotic and memorable performance by the girls.
Following the dance, they were joined on stage by the boys and girls of the Orphanage choir. Accompanied by guitar and piano they sang ‘Oh Christmas Tree’, followed by ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Joy to The World’, ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘Long Time Ago In Bethlehem’, ‘Feliz Navidad’ and finally, ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’. Heartfelt, rapturous applause ensued after each song.
Following a very jubilant, harmonic performance, which brought a smile to the sea of faces in the audience, Santa Claus made his appearance on stage to the delight of the gathered children and adults too. Musically accompanied by Marcus Tristan and Ben Rudolph, he entered singing ‘Santa is Coming to Town’. He then greeted the children and, to their delight, spoke to them in fluent Thai.
There were huge smiles on their faces as Santa, with a little help from Judith, handed out the bags of presents to the children as they exited the stage. Somkiat (Paul) from the Orphanage thanked Club members and guests for their generosity and said, ‘…you have brought happiness to our house.’ He also invited everyone present to the Orphanage’s Christmas Party on 25th December.
As the Children from the orphanage took their leave, Santa once again took to the stage to lead the audience in a medley of favourite Christmas tunes with musical accompaniment again provided by Marcus Tristan, a well-known composer, and Ben Rudolph, a youth who plays the keyboard, sings, and even composes some of his own music. Both have previously given separate presentations to the PCEC this past year; a summary can be found in previous editions of the Pattaya Mail (http://www.pattayamail.com/ourcommunity/visionary-music-vocal-ensembles-188129 and http://www.pattayamail.com/ourcommunity/food-music-pattaya-city-expats-club-190031,respectively ).
The words for the Christmas tunes were displayed on the large screens to allow the audience to join in the fun of celebrating Christmas by singing Christmas carols.
After a hearty sing-along-song, Santa said his farewells wishing all a Merry Christmas. After all he has many stops to make before the big day!
Judith and Ann Ensall concluded the Christmas Program by leading the singing of the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by performing various gestures to represent the twelve gifts mentioned in the verses, much to the delight of some of the audience.