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PMO Christmas Show becomes a family tradition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – For Purdue Varsity Glee Club member Jeff McGee of Indianapolis, singing is not only in his blood, it's a family tradition.

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McGee, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering technology, will be one of approximately 250 students performing in the 69th annual PMO Christmas Show, which will take place Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 8, in the Elliott Hall of Music. McGee's two older brothers, Andy (a 1995 graduate) and Bill (a 1996 graduate) also performed in the show when they attended Purdue.

McGee, a baritone, says he has been singing since he was in fourth grade, and he knew that he would follow in his brothers' footsteps by trying out for the Glee Club.

"I knew what a great reputation the group up here had and what a good time my brothers had," McGee says. "It's fun to share and exchange stories with them."

McGee traveled with the Glee Club to China last summer and his family went with his brothers when the club went on their European and Australian tours. He says his first PMO Christmas Show performance also was especially memorable.

"When the curtain lifts you get this awesome feeling of energy from the crowd," McGee says. "It's pretty neat."

McGee says the PMO ensembles, including the Glee Club, Purduettes, University Choir, PMO Express, Purdue Bell Choir and the PMO Kids Choir, have been rehearsing diligently for the Christmas program.

The theme of this year's show is "Celebrate An American Tradition." To add to the nostalgic aura, Norman Rockwell images will serve as backdrops.

"It's shaping up really well," McGee says. "There are a lot of good Christmas standards that we've put new twists on."

Other highlights of the show will include an appearance by Miss Indiana Tangra Riggle, who will be featured during the carol sing. "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" will be acted out, and Santa Claus will make a grand entrance. The performance will conclude with the sacred cantata, which is McGee's favorite portion of the show.

"I've always been a fan of traditional music," McGee says. "I like the powerful, big Christmas songs and ending on 'Silent Night.' It gives me chills."

The show will take the stage six times in three days in the Elliott Hall of Music:

• Friday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m.

• Saturday, Dec. 7, at noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

• Sunday, Dec. 8, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Tickets are $24 for adults and $17 for students. They can be purchased at the Purdue box offices by calling (765) 494-3933 or by calling the PMO office toll-free at (800) 893-3041.

McGee says he expects his parents to attend at least three performances.

"Mom sells between 80 and 100 tickets to friends and family," McGee says. "She's a big fan."

McGee's grandmother, Martha Holder, who passed away last year, also was a fan of the Christmas Show. To honor her memory, McGee and his brothers purchased lavalieres for Glee Club members to give away over the next 10 years. The lavalieres feature Purdue Pete in a tuxedo. A 50-year Glee Club tradition is for members to present one pendant to their mothers and another to the women they intend to marry.

Like the McGees, many families make attending the PMO Christmas Show an annual event. An audience of 36,000 people travel from all regions to see the show live on campus each December.

More than 1 million people have seen the PMO Christmas Show in Elliott Hall since its debut in 1933. The show also is broadcast nationwide on public television stations. This will be PMO director Brian Breed's 14th consecutive year directing the show.

McGee says he plans on returning for the show even after he graduates.

"I'll go until the day I die," McGee says. "If I have the means to get there and am within a couple of states, I'll always make it back to the show."

For McGee, it's an American – and family – tradition.

CONTACT: Jeff McGee, (765) 743-2672,; Julie Ricciardi, PMO Club director, (765) 494-3947,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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