It’s 2013 and I am sitting in the beautiful American Music Theatre in the heart of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, watching a Christmas show with a group of seniors (50 and up) from my church. I am serving as the Director of Worship and somehow I am lucky enough to have been the recipient of a complimentary ticket at the last minute. This was a perk I didn’t see coming when I said yes to the job.
Normally, I spend my days at the church trying to plan a meaningful worship service, so taking a day trip on a fancy coach bus and eating a scrumptious Lancaster County meal with the church people I serve only adds to the pleasure of the trip. The Christmas show is the perfect ending to a wonderful day.
As the show finishes, I sit in my seat, in a state of shock. We didn’t go to see this kind of thing when I was growing up, so I am pretty mesmerized by the whole production; from the set to the musicians, lighting and sound. I love it all!
“THIS is what I want my Christmas show to be like. A professional show, with a personal touch.” Did I just say that out loud? I exit the building with the rest of our group and I am completely energized. My mind is racing with ideas. My body is riding home on the coach bus, but my brain is somewhere else…scheming about how to do my own show.
I can’t help it. I seem to have been born with the ability to come up with tornadic ideas. The kind that carry my brain off to a fantasy land while the rest of my household lives in a perpetual state of stress because of it. Just ask my cats…and my husband.
A tornado can be a violent outburst of emotion or activity like the planning of a Christmas show not just a violent rotating column of air, as in a potentially violent and destructive system of atmospheric circulation, characterized by a long, funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground and made visible by condensation and debris. Try saying that sentence three times real fast!
In the Wizard of Oz, it was a tornado that swept Dorothy (and her house) off her feet. When the twister stopped twisting and dropped her off in a new land, she thought she was over the rainbow. Dorothy sensed she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. She was hoping for a place where all of her dreams really would come true and where she could be free of trouble. Boy, was she ever in for a surprise. The house dropping on the witch was just the beginning.
I too was in for a whirlwind of a journey when I decided to turn my Portraits of White album into a show. I thought I was headed for a land of bliss and fantasy (well, almost.) It seemed like such a great idea!
However, I had a lot to learn. The reality of this learning curve struck me as soon as the conductor started explaining all that I’d need to do JUST to have the music ready for an orchestra. Oops.
In a nutshell, all I ever wanted to do was create an experience that would sweep people off their feet and carry them to a land without troubles…at least for one weekend in December. A professional show with a personal touch. In 2014, I set out to make the first one happen.
I knew I was accomplishing my mission when I started hearing people say they felt as if they were simultaneously attending a professional production and sitting in my living room having coffee with me. That’s exactly what I wanted people to experience.
So this seems like a good place in the story to address the next question on the list from someone who asked, “What do I tell other people when they want to know what Portraits of White is?”
Here is a collection of responses we’ve received from people who were asked how they would describe the show…
“It blew me away.”
“Portraits of White is a show that brings together a world-class entertainer and orchestra to tell a story of how one person came to love “the Heart of Christmas” again.”
“If a good show was a good meal, Portraits of White would be Thanksgiving.”
“I laughed, I cried, I sang, then I left wanting more!”
“A refreshing 2 1/2 hour escape!!”
“Carefully crafted, from the heart, warm and fuzzy, and entertaining…not your typical Christmas show.”
“Portraits of White will make you look at winter in a totally different way! Bring it on!”
“Equates to any professional show I have seen in New York, Gatlinburg and Dollywood at Christmas. Close to home and much cheaper.”
“A true work of art for any music lover.”
“No special effects needed.”
“A different Christmas experience. Not a Broadway production with the same thing over and over.”
“Christmas came to life at the concert today! Frances was full of the joy of the season without the artificial syrupy sweetness the world markets. We could sit back, smile, and enjoy the incredible musicianship of all the participants.”
“This concert will overflow your Christmas soul. Frances Drost is so personable and down to earth. She has a way of making you feel as though she’s one of your best friends. But on the other side of that, her talent is amazing and unbelievable. You will be so glad you attended and you will make mental plans already to attend next year.”
“What a variety of music and musicians! I left everything else outside and was just present with Frances and the performances. I left feeling filled!”
“It was a magical experience that celebrated Christmas with creativity. It was nice to attend a concert that wasn’t the traditional.”
“This show was a delightful experience for both eyes and ears, but the emotional and spiritual impact was phenomenal!”
“In the midst of a beautiful but frequently hectic season Portraits of White is like coming inside from the cold, and sitting down by a fire with a mug of hot cocoa, a cozy blanket and your best friend to enjoy it with.”
“Professional production with a personal touch.”
“The show is a very real testimony of the performer’s background and their lives shared with the audience. Frances never fails to inspire and encourage the dreams of others and age incorporates all types of musicians, singers, and different backgrounds to perform. I love the openness and honesty of Frances and that she is not afraid to share the good and bad with others, which speaks to me very personally and I so appreciate this!”
“Special, different from the run of the mill holiday shows.”
“A breath of fresh air. Down to earth.”
“It’s like nothing else you have seen before. You will come away wanting more.”
“A beautiful way to enhance your Christmas celebration. It’s been a part of ours for four years.”
“It will inspire you, entertain you, even bring peace. You will go away feeling better than you came.”
“One of the best holiday concerts I have ever attended.”
“Portraits of White is delightful! Great musicians leave you well entertained with their skill. Yet I find I see beyond the musicality into the true meaning of Christmas, of Christ’s birth and the reality of his love that can be afforded to those around us at Christmas time and throughout the year. Lay aside the hustle and bustle to engage your heart at Christmas.”
“A variety of musical performances by many talented artists. It never got boring!”
“This show is a wonderful way to find your Christmas heart! Francis finds a way to touch each person there and create a special aura of joy and wonder. Part of our new Christmas traditions!!”
“If you enjoy Christmas music, and are a Christmas addict like I am, I mean… everything about it, You must see Portraits of White!”
“It’s truly a worship experience with a high degree of professionalism and a home town feel.”
“It was entertaining and warmed my heart. I felt like I was part of the show.”
“Highly entertaining, top-shelf musicianship, enough feel-good feelings to go around twice.”
“This concert gives you a reason to go home and continue to get ready for the celebration of Christmas!!”
“We are grateful for the performance that touched our hearts and minds and created a sacred pause during Advent.”
“This concert is a snowy wonderland way to experience the Christmas Season. It is not Christmas without Portraits Of White.”
“The atmosphere of the community of the musicians, recognizing them, featuring them and their talents – for me it made everyone feel like a “village” experience.”
“I felt cared for from the moment I walked in the door.”
“A wonderful performance perfectly constructed to lift up a weary spirit and remind us of the real reason for the season.”
“If you’re tempted to give up on Christmas, this concert will restore your joy!”
“A non-stop blitzkrieg of Christmas blessings.”
“It is a wonderful experience of music, some familiar Christmas music, some original to Frances, wonderful professional arrangements of Christmas music – special to Frances’s concert – so that one is consistently hearing new music. I like the acoustic direction this year’s concert took – so much intimacy with music. So wonderful to have the quality of professional musicians as well as feeling like we’re getting to know Frances more.”
“If you imagine that you are ‘Christmas prepared’ you aren’t until you experience Portraits of White. I doubled my guests this year and hope to double them again next year! Totally unique Christmas experience.”
“Portraits of White has become a holiday staple for me. I have found it to be a wonderful way to curtail the chaos of Christmas for an evening and focus my heart on the true beauty of the season. In addition, the show is such an amazing showcase of local talent. Frances makes everyone a star for the night! And because she so artfully draws attention to the giftedness of herself and others, she is able to weave the wonder of heaven into a rockin’ holiday show without ever making it awkward or obnoxious.”
“The decorations, flow, talent, humor, etc. all hit just the right notes! This was my first Portraits of White concert and I have already noted my calendar for next fall to order tickets.”
“Nothing on earth is perfect, but this concert comes close to attaining the label!”
“The entire show just spoke to my heart and moved me like no other service or show.”
“Portraits of White is the quintessential Christmas music performance, with beautiful, harmonic vocals surrounded by the ultimate orchestra and conductor, Frances shines brightly!”
“This show is fantastic! High-quality production and AMAZING regional and national talent! Attend once and you will want to make it an annual tradition!”
“It touched my heart and reminded me of why this season is so magical.”
“An awesome night of entertainment. From laughing to crying and feeling all warm inside. It’s worth it.”
“This show has become the highlight of the Christmas season for me. Frances Drost is so talented yet down to earth that she warms your heart with both her singing and piano playing as well as sharing her life’s ups and downs.”
“Professional quality show with a nice mix of Christmas music performed by accomplished musicians. The star of the show is Frances Drost, who has worked hard to bring her childhood dream come true to offer a Christmas program that is family friendly, fun and inspirational. From the lovely stage set to the talented orchestra, to the wit and humor from Frances, you won’t go away disappointed.”
“Portraits of White is an amazing show with an extraordinary performance that is sure to get the audience into the holiday spirit. In my opinion, the quality of the musicians is on a scale comparable to any professionally done show performed by well know musicians in the business. It is a show well worth attending!”
“This is THE concert to usher in the Christmas holiday season. Frances is so talented, and she mixes her own originals with classics! There are fantastic soloists and singers. It is top notch! Frances is so funny, yet she mixes in a vulnerability that makes her so real and makes it ok to mix sad with joy.”
“I love that Frances is always so real.”