A gift from Harry Connick Jr.

By - Castanet Story

One very special balloon delivery made the day of a bunch of young Kelowna actors as the card attached was signed by Harry Connick Jr.

The group of young thespians, from Kindergarten to Grade 6, at Studio 9 School of Arts received the surprise gift from the actor, writer, producer and Grammy Award-winning musician after their performance of The Happy Elf – written by Connick Jr.

Studio 9 CEO Mike Guzzi says they have been working for awhile to get the rights for The Happy Elf.

“We loved the show. It was sort of akin to the Charlie Brown Christmas in that it is not the typical Rudolph and Jingle Bells and those sorts of songs – it's jazz,” explains Guzzi.

They got licensing in the summer and worked hard practising the show. One week before they were all ready to hit the stage, Guzzi got a surprising call.

“My office manager gets the call and tells me it is Harry Connick Jr.'s people and I was like “What?!”,” explains Guzzi with a laugh. “I said “Ya, right. Ya, right”, but she is like 'No really it is.'”

The woman on the phone told Guzzi Connick Jr. wanted to send something to the show.

Guzzi says he was still in shock that Connick Jr.'s camp called. He asked to have the package delivered to his personal home so he could surprise all the kids at the same time.

“My wife called and told me I had a problem as I wouldn't be able to deliver it in my vehicle,” explains Guzzi. “It was an 11-foot high balloon bouquet. It had Santa in it and Christmas stuff and a couple musical balloons, a lollipop-shaped balloon and a card from Harry Connick Jr.”

Guzzi says this is the first time in 14 years of their organization producing licensed shows the writer has contacted the school and said thanks.

“It is kind of amazing, no one has ever sent us anything from a show,” says Guzzi, adding he was surprised when the Harry Connick, Jr. Camp told them they actually know where all The Happy Elf shows are being produced.

As seen in the video above, Guzzi brought out the bouquet at the end of show and had the host read the attached card.

“It blew everybody away, actually,” says Guzzi. “The kids didn't believe it, they thought it was a joke. I had to say it was serious. It was kind of neat.”

Guzzi says this particular group of young actors did a spectacular job on the show and it was great to see their hard work recognized.

“It sort of verified what they do and how hard they work. It was neat,” says Guzzi. “We've had shows written from other people and never heard boo, so it was pretty amazing.”

Guzzi thinks Connick Jr. may have given this show special attention as one of his professional projects is to bring jazz music to kids.

“He is passionate about the power and the need for jazz and he wrote the show to do that I think,” says Guzzi.

“It is a good show, it moves along well and it talks about Christmas spirit and the good things about Christmas, but also has some amazing music in it.”

Guzzi says Studio 9 will be writing Harry Connick Jr. a thank you letter for the gift and for writing the show.

“The bouquet is still sitting at the front desk here. The kids still come up and look at it,” says Guzzi. “It is really, really neat.”

The local production of The Happy Elf sold out both the Saturday matinee and evening performances.

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