For over 20 years, the Colorado Children’s Chorale has been very fortunate to have Brad and Susie Bolton act as Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Christmas with the Children’s Chorale concerts.
Susie began working for the Chorale in 1988 as a music assistant to Chorale Founder Duain Wolfe. With a background in music education, conducting and performing, she assisted Bob Wells, the Chorale’s long-time stage director, with stage movement and choreography. It wasn’t long before Brad was asked if he would consider making an appearance as Santa. With his professional dance background, Brad enthusiastically agreed!
The collaboration went so well that Brad was invited back for a second year. It was in 1992 that Susie received an invitation to appear as Mrs. Claus, which served as a brief respite from her child wrangler duties backstage during the Christmas concerts. With few exceptions, Brad and Susie have been choreographing and appearing as the dancing Santa and Mrs. Claus ever since, although there was one notable occasion where Mrs. Claus was actually the featured visitor from the North Pole, leaving Santa to the role of secondary ornamentation.
Of course, their most memorable appearances were those when events didn’t go exactly as planned. During one particular Christmas concert, they had an awkward moment when their belt buckles locked together during a fast dance number and they couldn’t break apart when they, ahem, should have.
They have entered on an assortment of wheeled vehicles, one of which Santa crashed into a wall during a show in Estes Park. There was also an occasion in Boettcher Concert Hall when both Santa and Mrs. Claus entered on an electric scooter, their combined weight exceeding the scooter’s limit by at least five times. This is likely the reason the handle bars failed when Santa tried to steer it. Mrs. Claus, feeling a sense of urgency from Santa, who was trying to stop the now uncontrollable scooter from careening into the first two rows of an unsuspecting audience, threw her arms around Santa’s stomach and held on for dear life. It was at this moment that she discovered her dress had become entangled in the back wheel of the scooter!
Another fond memory is the year when Santa’s monofilament beard got caught between his glove and the nylon rope down which he was repelling from the Dress Circle 2 balcony, causing it to ignite from the heat. Santa, however, was focused on the fact that he was supposed to be center stage within seconds; ignoring the stagehand graduate assistants trying to put out the smoking fire, he took off, only to later learn that he left half of his beard melted to the rope.
In “real” life, Brad and Susie have other occupations and activities to fill their time, but they continue to cherish their friendship and association with the Chorale and believe their experiences with the children and staff have enriched their lives beyond measure. Two of their own children are former Chorale members, and they are thrilled that their granddaughter is now enjoying her first season in Prep Choir. They look forward to collaborating with the Chorale for many more years to come, and believe portraying Santa and Mrs. Claus is truly one of the highlights of their holiday season.