On the first Christmas there was an incredible light show that scared the shepherds and a brilliant star that guided wise men to the manger with the baby Jesus.
Quite a production, which is perhaps the reason that it only happened once.
Not so for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, whose popular retelling of the Christmas story has become a modern tradition for many families. When TSO returns to Orlando on Sunday for two performances at Amway Center, the show's combination of arena-rock bombast and holiday cheer faces the daunting task of topping itself.
"It has gotten insane," show creator Paul O'Neill said a few years ago. "I can honestly say we spend more on pyro in eight weeks than every other band in the world does in a year."
In 2005 the show blew the main circuit breakers at the Meadowlands arena in New Jersey. Two years later the production knocked out power in Jackson, Miss. "Not the whole city," O'Neill clarified, with a trace of disappointment, "just part of the grid."
The lasers, indoor snow and fire (what, no ice?) are a challenge for more than the production team. It's hard for reviewers to find fresh ways to describe the spectacle. "Enough pyro to barbecue a school of blue whales," screamed one headline in recent years.
In the Orlando Sentinel, the stabs at hyperbole have ranged from vaguely biblical ("All was not calm, but, boy, it was bright") to philosophical ("If the road to excess really does lead to the palace of wisdom … then the members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra must be the wisest people on the planet").
Frankly, it has become exhausting. So this year, here's a chance for readers to craft their own reviews of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra extravaganza. Just take the template below, add the outrageous words of your choice and voila!, you're a critic!
"Trans-Siberian Orchestra again demonstrated that it never met a _____ (noun) it didn't love in a _____ (adjective) two-hour performance on Sunday at Amway Center.
The most ______ (adjective) portion of the show was tied to the holiday theme that put TSO on the map with its 1996 hit "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" and a trilogy of follow-up albums. The tale of spiritual transformation on Christmas Eve was steered along by the ______ (adjective) narration of cast member Bryan Hicks and embellished by _______ (adjective) special effects that included snowfall on the audience.
Powered by a less accessible story line, the second set was devoted to ______ (adjective) riffing. The non-holiday material is less _____ (adjective), but still ______ (adjective).
With enough lights to be _____ (verb) by _____ (noun) orbiting in space, the utterly ______ (adjective) stage is ultimately the star. It shines brightly enough to ____ (verb) the less-inspiring moments."
When: 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16
Where: Amway Center, 400 W. Church St., Orlando