Back Home Again! Holiday Spectacular Returns to the Dale E. Graham Auditorium!

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October 2022

For more than 30 years, the Carmel High School Choir Department has been presenting its annual Holiday Spectacular as a gift to the Carmel Community. We are pleased to feature on our cover this exciting performance that features more than 450 performers singing and dancing and delivers a huge helping of the holiday spirit! The past few years have been unusual with COVID-19 restrictions and auditorium renovations, but Carmel Monthly is excited to announce that this year’s Holiday Spectacular will finally be back on stage in the newly renovated Dale E. Graham Auditorium!

The 2022 show “Peace, Love, Joy” is sure to lift your spirits and prepare you for an exciting holiday season filled with exactly what the title of the show promises … a newfound sense of peace, a reminder of the love that we all share and the overpowering joy that we all receive from this time of togetherness, renewal and rebirth.

Working Through the Challenges

The renovation and expansion of the CHS performing arts space has been ongoing since 2020 and was necessary to not only meet current ADA compliance but to house the performing arts programs and classes that have more than doubled since the original space was completed in 1993. The renovations will provide an additional 17,000 square feet to the performing arts complex and will include additional large, shared ensemble/rehearsal rooms, classrooms, storage space and the renovations to the Dale E. Graham Auditorium.

CHS Director of Choirs Kathrine Kouns shared with us what the last few years have been like for the performing arts department as a whole and the toll that the pandemic and construction/renovations have had specifically on the annual Holiday Spectacular shows and the choir department’s bottom line.

“Any kind of construction or renovation is extraordinarily challenging, whether it’s your bathroom or a huge project like this,” Kouns said. “That being said, the nature of what we do in the performing arts department … we have huge classes and manage many more students than are in a regular classroom. We also have unique needs, as far as risers, acoustic treatments and things that are just not found in regular classrooms. It has been very challenging, and we’ve had to move a couple of times in the process, and we don’t expect to be fully moved into the renovated choir room spaces until probably August of next year. But that’s OK, because having the performance space really does make a huge difference.”

CHS Holiday Spectacular Returns

Kouns added, “There’s just something different about being able to perform on a stage in an actual auditorium with lighting and sound and everything that is set up for a performing arts show. It’s a very different atmosphere, and sadly, the majority of our students have never performed in our auditorium or had a single concert in there. We’ve been out [of the space] because of COVID and then the renovations.”

In the absence of concerts and a traditional Holiday Spectacular experience with ticketed seats, Kouns shared how they have worked through the past few years in spite of the loss of revenue from ticket sales.

“It has been challenging, but we didn’t want the tradition to die because we didn’t have an auditorium,” Kouns shared. “And I’m really proud to say that even though we weren’t able to bring in the revenue that we usually do from our shows, we have not raised our student fees. We’re working really hard at fundraising and finding corporate sponsors, so we’re really hopeful that with this show coming up and having all of the concessions, silent auction, flowers, etc. back again, that will help our budget and get us out of the basement, where it [budget] has been the last few years.”

Newly Renovated and Ready for the Holidays                    

Kouns previewed some of the details of the newly renovated auditorium and some of the additions and upgrades that will be enjoyed by its audiences and performers alike.

“I will say that at first glance it might not appear drastically different,” Kouns explained. “There are some aesthetic treatments that will look different, and all of the seating is new. There are all new acoustic treatments hanging on both the walls and the ceiling, a new sound system and soundboard, and the stage has been completely resurfaced. We did lose seats because of ADA compliance requirements, and we’ll take a little hit on ticket sales, but we still have approximately 1200 seats — I haven’t received the final seating chart yet — and that’s still a large theater and will work for us really well. The seating layout will be similar to what it was before the renovation, and we will still have the balcony seating available.”

CHS Holiday Spectacular Returns

Kouns also mentioned that as part of the upgrades, the orchestra pit now has a “pit filler” that creates an extension of the stage and allows the performers to get much closer to the audience, providing more performance space on the stage. She also pointed out that due to supply chain issues, there will be touch-ups and minor installations over the next few months but that these won’t have an impact on the experience of the Holiday Spectacular performances or on the comfort of the audience members.

Keep a Close Eye Out for Ticket Sale Announcements!

The Holiday Spectacular is a longstanding tradition for many local families and former CHS students and has traditionally sold out. Given that it will be returning to its home in the Dale E. Graham Auditorium, it will likely sell out quickly. Kouns and the entire CHS Performing Arts Department staff are awaiting the final seating chart with assigned seat numbers before she can make the ticket link for this year’s Holiday Spectacular live. She encourages everyone to keep an eye on their social media accounts and visit the CHS website for updates!

Additionally, like in prior years, there will be community giveback opportunities at each of the performances benefiting local nonprofits in the local and central Indiana communities.

Kouns added, “We hope that you will join us for this year’s ‘welcome home’ event, which will take place from November 30 through December 4 with performances at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings, as well as 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Go to for more information coming soon!”