There’ll be a crowd Sunday outside the State Theatre for pianist Lorie Line’s “Born in Bethlehem” Christmas show.
I base this on years of seeing throngs of Line’s fans on their way to her Hennepin Theatre Trust performances. After seeing “Lorie Line & her Fab Five” last weekend at a suburban venue, I now understand why this holiday show is a must-see.
For starters, there’s her “12 Days of Christmas” pageant. It involves kids from the audience coming backstage to dress up like all the characters in that song, such as ladies dancing and lords a leapin’. The concept was her idea, and it’s become a staple about which Line talked to me in our startribune.com/video.
As someone so exhausted by the pace of Christmas and the music (used to manipulate me into buying unnecessary stuff), I tell people this time of year that I’m Jewish to get them off my back. This show, however, breathed new life into the Christmas music format for me, because Line offers so many fresh, creative takes.
The show is absolutely filled with unexpected, charming elements, and I’m not just talking about her “Fab Five” — Mike Linden, guitar; Drew Moore, bass; Marcus Farrow, drums; Ryan Christianson, trombone, and Robbie Nordstrom, violin — some of whom probably weren’t twinkles in their parents’ eyes when Line started this annual show 24 years ago.
“There are 11 of us on the bus; it sleeps 12. I have one junk bunk for Christmas gifts,” Line told me. “It’s wonderful traveling with them. You wouldn’t think it would be fun, but it’s fun. They are all in the back of the bus and they’re playing video games, and I’m up with the adults and we’re having nice glasses of wine and talking about how the show went. I assign a chore day to each of these kids. After the show tonight, when we start rolling to Lincoln, [Neb.,] I have one kid who helps me cook the dinner. We chop and do things together. I kind of mentor them and I really like it. It’s one of my favorite times of playing music because it’s brand new to them. They listen to you.”
I’m already planning my next Q&A with Lorie Line. It will feature her 50-something beauty secrets.
Q What’s the most unChristmasy music we’re likely to hear you play?
A I just did a Beatles tour. I grew up on that music. I try to do a spring-summer show that’s totally different from this.
Q Are you a good dancer?
A I’m a fairly good dancer. But when the kids got out there and did the hip hop, I don’t see myself getting on the floor anymore. I was like, ‘We’ve got to do the hip hop?’ because they can do it. I don’t think I have to be involved in every little aspect of the show. Share the spotlight.
Q Who is your favorite singer?
A Kelly Clarkson. I think she’s awesome. I really like her voice. I don’t know if I like her style and look, but just listening to her, man, I think she can sing. My all-time favorite is Whitney Houston. Oh, I LOVED her. She could bring you to tears. I think Kelly Clarkson has a little bit of her style; she has such range and power
Q Would you rather have dinner with Kanye West, the self-proclaimed creative genius who may not know how to spell the g-word, or Celine Dion?
A Oh, Celine Dion for sure. She’s beautiful. She made her own road doing everything a little bit different. A hard worker. She so hardworking. She’s still doing it, and she doesn’t have to. I love her style, too; her body style, everything she wears.
Q What is the biggest challenge for you, a classically trained pianist, when it comes to playing classical pieces?
A I would say the technique of it all. The details, because I am a smaller person. My hands are medium size for a woman. A lot of classical pieces were written for giant hands. That’s challenging. [We compared hand sizes.] You have bigger hands than me. Look at that. Now how can you stretch? You’ve got a good stretch.
Q I’m told that the day after your last birthday you were asked to show your driver’s license twice: Once at Perkins to prove you were eligible for the senior discount and then at Costco to prove you were old enough to buy wine.
A That was a hoot.
Q What’s your daily workout routine?
A I hate working out; I would rather starve than work out. I never have gotten that euphoria. I make myself work out. Before I go out on tour, I work out 45 minutes a day. That’s enough. It’s on the treadmill 2 miles so I have good cardio. I weight lift [which is] super important for playing the piano. A lot of weights and stretching, all in 45 minutes.
Q Today may I please have three of what I hear are your more than 50 beauty secrets?
A Fifty? I think the secret to looking good, 90 percent of it is keeping your weight down. I walk into a room and look different because they’ve given up. My other beauty secret is that I don’t eat anything that has a bar code on it. I don’t eat prepackaged food. My other thing is water, all day long. I haven’t had a pop or a Coke in 25 years. Moisturizer, especially in the wintertime. I’ve put it on twice already today especially because I’m on a show. I think Vanicream is really great, because it doesn’t have an odor, dyes. You get it at the pharmacy; you have to ask for it. I put that on my body and Kiehl’s on my face, twice a day.
Q Do you pig out on any food?
A Yes, when I can. I LOVE ice cream. I think I inherited that — my dad loves ice cream — but I can’t eat it all the time.
Q Doesn’t ice cream have a bar code on it?
A You’re right.
Q You sounded rather miffed in Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal about the media reports on the canceled sheriff’s sale/foreclosure of your Orono home. You said: “We are hardworking entrepreneurs who pay our people first and take what’s left in the end. To us and to those who know us well, the story was unnecessary media hype.” Do you still feel that way?
A I kind of do. We told them that was never going to happen, that foreclosure never did happen. It was a big story about something that never developed.
Q Do you now realize that had your home’s profile not been raised by the splashy coverage it received in the Strib’s Home Gazing feature, media might not have paid so much attention to your financial problems?
A Yeah. I wouldn’t say it was financial problems. I think if I ever try to sell it again, I would do it very quietly. We moved our money around and this is the way it ended up for us and we got out alive, thank God.
Q It is my understanding that featuring the house was pitched to us without an indication there were financial issues until days later when court papers were filed. Did you ever really need a house 9,100 square foot in size?
A It’s not that big. I’ve got a recording studio, my whole business. I only have four bedrooms.
Q How many square feet to you think would be sufficient these days?
A Three thousand. I’m moving.
Interviews are edited. C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”