A bit of Las Vegas-style entertainment is coming to Kingwood Dec. 21 and 22. Fresh off a six-year run playing Christine in “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular” at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Kristen Hertzenberg will star in “Christmas with the Two Divas & the Lone Star Tenor at the Nathaniel Center.” Kingwood residents DeDe and Larry Wedekind will round out the lead roles in the production. Hertzenberg graduated from Kingwood High School in 1995 and earned advanced college degrees in voice and opera. Prior to her recent run at the Venetian (the production closed in September), she played Sheila in a multi-year European tour of the musical “Hair.” Wayne Green, composer and musical director of “Spamalot” in Las Vegas has been quoted describing Hertzenberg’s singing ability. “She tosses off a Mozart trill and a gospel riff with equal ease. She brings to a song an emotional depth and intelligence extraordinary,” Green said.  One of Hertzenberg’s self-described career highs was singing the National Anthem in 2011 at the Kobalt Tools 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in front of 150,000 spectators and 10 million television viewers. Hertzenberg has sung the anthem at other events, such as bull riding championships, basketball games, and at a Los Angeles Angels game. “The NASCAR one was a huge deal for me. They took us out to the speedway in a helicopter because of the horrendous traffic between Las Vegas and the Speedway. Just to have 150,000 people around you is trippy. The energy was incredible and I had to time the Anthem with a fly-over [of the Air Force Thunderbirds],” Hertzenberg said. It was 2011 that may have also included one of Hertzenberg’s career lows. In September 2011, Hertzenberg had a thyroid cancer scare that nearly ended her music career. After a routine wellness checkup, it was determined she needed to have her thyroid removed. “It was a scary time for sure. Your thyroid is connected to the laryngeal nerve, which is connected to your vocal cords. If that nerve gets nicked, you can have vocal cord paralysis. I was honestly more worried about that than I was about the cancer. I lucked out, and there is a surgeon in Las Vegas who people travel to see,” she said. Although she will be starring in a production of “Two Divas,” Hertzenberg doesn’t consider herself a true diva. “I’m the most low-maintenance person ever. I had to do an audition a couple of days ago and I had to go straight from there to my husband’s art gallery and it’s connected by a coffee shop that a lot of our friends hang out at. I walked through and I had my hair and make-up all done and I felt so self-conscious because I was so afraid people would think I am this high-maintenance girl,” said Hertzenberg. In 2011, Hertzenberg released her debut album, Holidays from the Heart. The other diva in the Nathaniel Center production is DeDe Wedekind, who is also no stranger to the music business. Wedekind had recent success over the summer of 2012 when her song “Psalm of Danny Boy” hit the adult contemporary charts. Wedekind described the upcoming show. “Kristen is singing songs from pop to jazzy to classical, plus there are a lot of traditional Christmas songs. Kingwood United Methodist Music Director Gary Showalter will be our narrator and musical guest.  Gary will add some great singing (as well as some comic relief to Act One). Bandleader Gene Keen, who performed in Vegas for 25 years for top Vegas acts, and I have been busy writing custom arrangements just for the show. This show is for the entire family and I think the audience will love the song selections. The show features Kristen, Gary, Larry, myself, Gene, and the seven-piece band throughout. The second half of our show tells the Christmas story through heartfelt narrative and breathtaking songs,” Wedekind said. Tickets for the show may be purchased in advance for $16-$30 at itickets.com or by phone 1-800-965-9324. A portion of the proceeds from the performance will go toward a new shelter for FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center. “I hope that folks will bring the entire family to enjoy our show and support FamilyTime, the arts, and the artists in our area,” added Wedekind. Photo: Hertzenberg

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