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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media — comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Contact John at

Photos From Mariah Carey’s ‘A Christmas Melody’

Brian Douglas
Hallmark Channel

 This article was first published Dec. 14, 2015. 

Here’s how Kilgour Elementary School, a Wyoming shop and young Cincinnati area performers will look in Mariah Carey’s “A Christmas Melody” premiering 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, on the Hallmark Channel.

You can also ask questions about Mariah’s movie  -- and Cate Blanchett’s “Carol,” and other movies recently filmed here – when Kristen Erwin Schlotman from the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission and “A Christmas Melody” choreographer Lea Lachey appear on “Cincinnati Edition” 1 p.m. Tuesday  on 917 WVXU-FM.

Credit Brian Douglas for the Hallmark Channel
Lea Lachey (white sweater) and Mariah Carey on the Kilgour school stage.

Lea Lachey and her husband, Drew Lachey, trained the 10 young performers for the big school pageant scenes shot at Kilgour Elementary School in Mount Lookout in October.  I’m told Lea also has a small on-camera role in “A Christmas Melody” too.

Carey, who directed the film, plays Melissa the diva PTA president and rival of Kristen (Lacey Chabert), a single mother who moves back home from New York City with a young daughter Emily (Fina Strazza).  

Credit Brian Douglas for the Hallmark Channel
Lacey Chabert and Kathy Najimy chat in a restaurant scene filmed in Wyoming.

Kristen finally feels at home after she renews her friendship with the school music teacher (Brennan Elliott, “Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb, “Flight 93”) and meets Kristen’s aunt Sarah (Kathy Najimy, “Veep,” Veronica’s Closet,” “Sister Act” ), a coffee shop owner in the fictional town of Silver Lake.  

The coffee shop scenes were one of many filmed in Wyoming. 

The Lacheys, who are graduates of the School for Creative & Performing Arts, provided the young singers and dancers needed to play the elves and angels in the big musical finale from their Lachey Arts summer camp training program.

Ten students performed behind Emily (Strazza) on the Kilgour auditorium stage -- for the Silver Lake Elementary Snowflake Pageant -- when I spent the day watching filming one Sunday in October.

Credit Brian Douglas for the Hallmark Channel
Drew Lachey offers directions to Fina Strazza on Kilgour stage.

“A Christmas Melody” filmed two weekends in October in Kilgour School.  

It wasn’t easy.

Credit Brian Douglas for the Hallmark Channel
Emily (Fina Strazza) runs down a Kilgrour school hallway to greet her mother (Lacey Chabert)

Production crews worked into the early morning hours to remove all the Christmas decorations from the auditorium –Christmas lights, wreaths, Christmas trees, snowflakes and garland – along with all the cameras and filmmaking equipment, before classes resumed on Monday.  

The young Cincinnati area performers – and their parents – learned a lot about show business during filming. The kids repeated their song and dance all day, for close-ups and dialog scenes in the afternoon, and in the evening when their parents (who had been waiting in a classroom for seven hours) finally got to see the filming of the Snowflake Pageant.

For the big finale, Emily sings Carey’s “Oh Santa.” Carey rewrote lyrics to her 2010 hit for Fina Strazza to sing in the film. Lots of people will refer to this movie as Carey’s directorial debut, but the breakout star could be 10-year-old Strazza, who starred on Broadway earlier this year as “Matilda.” She has an incredible voice – and remarkable stage presence for someone her age. She could have a long, wonderful career.

Credit Brian Douglas for the Hallmark Channel
The "Oh Santa" finale

 Expect Mariah to sing her version of “Oh Santa” after the movie, when she stars in a new holiday special, “Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas” (10 p.m. Saturday, Hallmark Channel) immediately following the premiere of “A Christmas Melody.” 

Credit Courtesy Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel's promotional photo for "Mariah Carey's Merriest Christmas."

Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Emmy-winner Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”) and Billy Gardell (“Mike & Molly”) will guest star in the one-hour special.

“A Christmas Melody” cast members Lacey Chabert, Brennan Elliott and Fina Strazza also will appear to share their “holiday memories and experiences from working with Mariah on-set during production of the movie,” according to the Hallmark Channel.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.