Candlelight Processional—the stirring Epcot holiday tradition in which a star narrator performs a reading of the Nativity story accompanied by a 50-piece live orchestra and massed choir—is as magnificent an experience for those on America Gardens Stage as it is for those watching the presentation.
We got the Candlelight Processional narrator’s perspective from none other than Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner Whoopi Goldberg.
Greg: How do you approach the narration of the Nativity story?
Whoopi: I am respectful of it because it’s a wonderful story. The idea that you can tell this story with these choruses behind you thrills me. I know it’s a story that people love and it’s important to people of faith to hear and so I try to be respectful of it as well but I also want to have a little fun with it.
Greg: Do you let the text and music flow through you? Is every performance a fresh experience?
Whoopi: Sure, you can put it that way. Because you are changing choruses after each performance you have to listen how their air is circulating behind you. You feel differently with different people behind you. I try to feel everything. I love my conductors because it’s always fun. I love people singing those traditional songs and I know lots of people wish that there was more of it—more of that kind of traditional caroling going on.
Greg: Isn’t the narration of the text like music, in a way — the rising and falling of the words, the emphasis and tone?
Whoopi: Well maybe, sometimes. I’m never boring when I read. You can say it’s like jazz but you can never perform it as a jazz piece. It’s a traditional piece. In my hands it’s a little less traditional. There are pieces of music I adore.
Greg: We’re so delighted to have you back for the Candlelight Processional. How does it feel to be part of the holiday experience and tradition of so many people?
Whoopi: I don’t know whether you all are aware of this but you know I alternate with Santa Claus with delivering things. We chronicled it in a film called “Call Me Claus”. I like being part of the holiday tradition because it’s a big part of my life and some of the best memories come from the traditions that I grew up with. I like the magic of it and I think as long as you can give the magic of the holidays to children they will always stay children.
Greg: Congratulations on receiving the Excellence in Media Award from Temple University. How do you feel about awards in general — do you have some that have special meaning to you?
Whoopi: All awards have special meaning to me because it means that somebody thought enough of you to go and buy something and say hey remember us because we’re honoring you we think you did a good job with whatever or being a good person. I like them. I think it’s all right to get awards.
Greg: I’ve heard you’re a big fan of classic animation. The great Billie Holiday also loved watching cartoons. Any Disney faves?
Whoopi: Well I’m a big Peter Pan girl. I love Peter Pan. I like some of the newer stuff as well but I like all of the old Mickey. I like a lot of the Fleischer brothers’ things also. I just like the idea that you can make animation. That you can make inanimate objects talk when you animate them. I love that stuff. Anything Disney does, I’m happy with.
Greg: You’ve always got so many great projects in the works. What would you like our readers to get excited about?
Whoopi: Well I hope that everyone has watched my documentary on HBO called “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley.” I hope that they all go see “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which I’m in, and then I hope they all watch Lifetime, where I’m in “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” (2014). And I hope they all lobby to get Pixar to put me in one more thing!