AIKEN --- The University of South Carolina Aiken's annual Feast of Carols will feature an updated theme this year as event planners look to honor the city of Aiken's 175th birthday.
"In the past we've gone back 1,000 years and it was about the Renaissance, but we wanted to spice it up," said Abby Hogg, the publicity coordinator.
Carols this year will tap into the nostalgic vibe of variety specials by Bob Hope, Dean Martin and Andy Williams as singers send out their best holiday wishes. Songs will include Silver Bells, Little Drummer Boy and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas .
"It's like you're watching these specials in your living room, and it features some of the best-known Christmas songs," Hogg said. "There's a lot of excitement around the change, and it's a genuine family get-together."
The event is a joint production of the music and theater departments, with all proceeds benefiting the Visual and Performing Arts Department scholarships. The funds help offset students' extracurricular time in the arts in lieu of traditional jobs.
Visual and Performing Arts Chairman Jack Benjamin will direct the evening. Benjamin also spearheaded efforts to rewrite this year's theme to capture the magic of traditional caroling and slapstick comedy.
"My favorite element of this year's show is the incorporation of the USCA Jazz Band," Benjamin said in an e-mail. "With the big band and vocalists onstage, the audience will feel as if they have stepped one of the great TV variety shows of past holiday seasons. As in past years, the music is central to the production. This year our guests will enjoy hearing their favorite holiday tunes, with a modern twist."
The dinner buffet, or traditional feast, will also feature a twist. This year's entrees will include traditional Southern Christmas favorites, including roast beef and turkey carving stations.