Sugar and spice, everything nice

Geyser’s Great Big Holiday Bake-Off, a musical
Thursday, December 16, 2021
Sugar and spice, everything nice

Twisting together like a candy cane, Geyser elementary students hold little back. Shown here are (from left) Liam Meek, Ethan Skelton, Mia Bossen, Grace Antila, Stetson Claver behind Grace, Royce Claver and Mesa Scalese, just out of frame. Photo by Melody Montgomery

Sugar and spice, everything nice

Geyser Music Teacher Genevieve Mackey guides and directs the talented performers throughout the evening’s musical.

Sugar and spice, everything nice

Kaiah Aleson plays Judge Granny Smith in the Great Big Holiday Bake-Off. Her mother did her amazing make-up, adding years to her young face to for the part. Photos by Melody Montgomery

Who can resist doing the candy cane twist? Certainly not the Geyser elementary students during their delightful musical performance last week at the Geyser School.

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the Geyser Music Department presented “a confectionary musical and band program” under the direction of Geyser Music Teacher Genevieve Mackey. All the elementary students took part in the charming and exuberant performance.

The musical was based on the concept of a bake off. Each contestant, seven total, would meet with the judges to discuss their culinary masterpieces, which then led into a song representing the each of the seven contestants.

The students began practicing for the big Christmastime performance just after Halloween. It was clear hearing them perform that they loved every minute of it. One can only imagine how happy their classroom practices were.

Mackey has been teaching music in Geyser since 2019. She graduated in Music Education from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. A year after graduating, she moved to Montana with her husband and started teaching K-6 General Music in Great Falls, then Fairfield before joining the Geyser School and community.

To begin the performance last week, Mackey thanked the parents and staff who helped make the event possible, including school staff members Pat Antonich and Doug Feldman, who set up the stage and contributed to the props, as well as Secretary Debbie Evans, who helped with flyers and programs. Also, Chefs Peggy Hill and Stephanie Ziegler provided lemonade and coffee. Mackey thanked parents Elle Scalese, Jordy Aleson and Wendy Antila and other parents who brought props like oven mitts, spatulas and other kitchen items, as well as the parents who brought treats for the reception that followed.

“Lastly, I would like to thank all of my wonderful students who worked so hard this semester to make this happen. I am so beyond proud of you. You are all the base that holds up my gingerbread house,” said Mackey during the introduction.

Mackey’s love for music and teaching was clear in the enthusiastic treat, with children twisting, shaking, and rolling as they sang the festive songs.

The performance began with a five-note concerto by John O’Reilly, featuring Tory Bossen on clarinet, Mia Bossen on alto saxophone, Lane Meek on trumpet, Liam Skelton on the trombone, Isaac Bush on baritone, Sicily Scalese on bells and William Moore on snare drum. They all played their instruments with skill and clarity. Surely they spent many hours practicing for the performance, and it paid off.

Next began the musical.

The Great Big Holiday Bake-Off

Segueing from the introduction, Mackey began the musical by telling the audience, “Without further delay, get ready to laugh, clap and cheer for the Great Big Holiday Bake Off.”

The performance began with an opening song, The Great Big Holiday Bake-Off.

“Isn’t it grand? Isn’t it great? Something delicious on every plate! Sugar and spice, everything nice, the Great Big Holiday Bake-Off! …. Isn’t it swell? Isn’t it sweet? Baking a holiday treat to eat!…”

After the applause settled following the opening song, Bake-Off Hosts William Moore and Lane Meek explained the competition to the audience.

“There are two parts of this final competition,” explained William. “First, the solo bake-off.”

“Which is all about creativity and individuality,” Lane added.

“The second [part] is the culinary collaboration,” said William.

“Which is all about teamwork and quick thinking,” Lane added.

The first contestant, Debbie Dunbar, hailed all the way from Cookie-ville, Kentucky, and was played by Sicily Scalese.

The second contestant, with a Doctorate in Deliciousness from Caramel College, was Professor Penny Potts, played by Tory Bossen.

Next introduced was the Winner of the Eggnog Challenge and Master of Whip Creamery Duncan Doe, played by Liam Skelton.

Twins Tommy and Tammy Toffee were played by Mia Bossen and Stetson Claver.

“Heidi ho!” said Mia.

“Here we go!” replied Stetson.

The final contestant was an avid cookbook collector from Coconut Corner, Georgia, Betty Butterworth, played by Mesa Scalese.

“I’m so excited, y’all!” said Mesa with a charming and exuberant southern accent.

Judges were Billy Blakewell, who “never bakes poorly,” played by Isaac Bush, and “the apple of our eye” Granny Smith, played by Kaiah Aleson.

The youngest students were part of the chorus and included Grace Antila, Telle Brown, Sage Claver, Ethan Skelton, Makaylee Skelton, Emmett Meek, Royce Claver and Wyatt Stromberg.

To begin the musical, the hosts told the audience the solo portion began late the night before.

“The judges left plenty of room for individuality and asked each bake to make a holiday treat each of their own choosing,” said Lane.

“The only requirement is that it is festive for the holiday party,” added William.

Up first was Debby Dunbar, played by Scicily Scalese.

“Everyone back home just raves about my sugar cookies,” said Sicily, in character, leading into the song Sugar Cookie.

“Sugar Cookie, Shh Shh Sugar Cookie, what a tasty treat! Shh Shh Sugar Cookie, something warm and sweet! … Shh Shh Sugar Cookie how I love you so! Look I made a reindeer! Look I made a star! A Christmas tree and a candy cane, put ‘em in the cookie, put ‘em in the cookie, put ‘em in the cookie jar!”

Next Professor Potts, played by Tory Bossen, introduced the confectionary delight for the song My Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Buns, for which a great baker never tells his/her secret.

“Roll, roll, roll! Cinnamon, sugar and spice” the contestants and chorus sang throughout the ooey, gooey, chewy song. “How I love you, my ooey gooey cinnamon buns!”

Duncan Doe, played by Liam Skelton, explained he liked to think outside the box so he whipped up some hot, hot, hot, hot chocolate. He even added a bit of spice – cayenne pepper.

“Sizzzzzzz. Hot! Hot, hot, hot, hot chocolate, I can’t get enough! Hot, hot, hot, hot chocolate, it’s my favorite stuff!” sang the elementary students.

Next came the Toffee Twins, played by Mia Bossen and Stetson Claver.

“Are we set?!” said Stetson. “You bet!” replied Mia. They provided a treat to entertain – a minted candy cane – and the twists the students put into the song were a sight to behold.

“There’s a piece of candy, a special kind of treat, and when I think about it, I just have to move my feet!” they sang. “I shimmy in my shoulders. I wiggle in my hips. I want to have a party when I taste it on my lips – Let’s twist! Like a candy cane!! … who can resist doing the candy cane twist?”

The final solo contestant was Betty Butterworth, played by Mesa Scalese and her fabulous Southern accent.

“I built a house at Christmas,” the children sang. “This house is so incredible that you won’t believe your eyes!”

Not so coincidentally, the stage was also lined with several gingerbread houses the children made for the play, and they even gave a couple away to some of the youngest audience members following their finale songs – “Fruitcake”, “Bake-Off Finale” and “Bows.”

Looking back to 2019 when Mackey joined the Geyser School, she said, “I would like to show the kiddos how much fun music can be and introduce new ideas into the Geyser music community … Most of all, I would like the community to be able to enjoy the student’s hard work that they will show off during performances.”

In addition to its outstanding entertainment and joy, the Dec. 8 Great Big Holiday Bake-Off showed that she is staying true to her vison. Likewise, the final challenge in the Bake-off turned out to not be about fruitcake at all. It was about coming together.

“All the ingredients are good on their own, but when they combine, it’s simply divine!”

You are all the base that holds up my gingerbread house.”

– Genevieve Mackey, music teacher

Isn’t it grand? Isn’t it great? Something delicious on every plate!”

– Geyser Elementary Performers