A year after welcoming back live audiences for its annual Christmas concert, the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is continuing its popular holiday tradition — this time with the help of a rising Broadway artist and a star from “Downton Abbey.”

On Friday, the choir announced that Michael Maliakel (who currently stars as Aladdin on Broadway) and Lesley Nicol (well known for her role as the cook Mrs. Patmore in “Downton Abbey”) will be the guest artists for the annual Christmas concerts, which typically draw around 63,000 people to downtown Salt Lake City. This year, the concerts run Dec. 14 through 16 at the Conference Center.

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Who is Michael Maliakel?

Baritone artist Michael Maliakel made his Broadway debut in 2021, starring as Aladdin. The Indian American actor was recently featured in two PBS concert specials, including “Broadway’s Brightest Lights,” where he starred alongside fellow Tabernacle Choir guest artist Megan Hilty.

Maliakel also starred as Raoul in the 25th anniversary production of “The Phantom of the Opera,” according to a news release shared with the Deseret News. While music has always been a passion for Maliakel, theater was a more recent discovery.

Michael Maliakel is a guest artist for the 2023 Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. | Jiyang Chen

“My first love was music — I consider myself a musician at heart,” Maliakel said in an interview shared on Broadway.com. “Choral and vocal chamber music and piano and theater came into my life a little bit later in high school. I was Skye Masterson in ‘Guys and Dolls.’ It was the first time that I really could see myself doing (theater) in the futureI ended up going to college initially just for a liberal arts degree and then transferred into an opera program. I studied classical voice and then shimmied my way into the theater world.”

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Who is Lesley Nicol?

In a career spanning over 40 years, Lesley Nicol has performed everywhere from London’s West End to Broadway, and has extensive credits in film and television. Although she has persistently stated over the years that her kitchen skills leave something to be desired, Nicol is beloved for her role as the cook Mrs. Patmore in “Downton Abbey.”

Lesley Nicol is a guest artist for the 2023 Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. | Ruth Crafer

Her appearance in the Tabernacle Choir Christmas concerts comes six years after her fellow “Downton Abbey” star Hugh Bonneville graced the Conference Center stage as narrator.

In the U.K., Nicol’s TV career has included roles on “Blackadder,” “Shameless,” “Inspector George Gently,” “Hancock and Joan” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” according to the news release. Most recently, Nicol completed filming for the upcoming series “Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office.”

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How to get tickets for the 2023 Tabernacle Choir Christmas concerts

This year’s concerts run Dec. 14, 15 and 16 at the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

Tickets are complimentary but required, and will be distributed through a random selection process. Tickets are limited to four per household — up from two last year, according to the news release. The registration period for tickets runs from Oct. 24 at noon MDT through Nov. 3 at 11:59 p.m. MDT. The number of tickets will be limited because of construction around Temple Square.

You can register at tabchoir.org/Christmastickets.

The guest artists are also scheduled to perform at the “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 9:30 a.m. Tickets for this program are not required.

How to watch last year’s Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert

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Last year’s Christmas concert welcomed Disney/Broadway star Lea Salonga and Sir David Suchet, well known for portraying Agatha Christie’s Detective Hercule Poirot. It marked the first time in two years that a live audience attended the Christmas concert.

That performance, titled “Season of Light,” will air on PBS and BYUtv this December. On PBS, it is scheduled to premiere Dec. 12. The choir will also release CD and DVD versions of last year’s concert on its own recording label, along with an illustrated book based on last year’s narrations, according to the news release.

The Tabernacle Choir, made up of more than 300 singers, is led by director Mack Wilberg and associate music director Ryan Murphy. The Orchestra at Temple Square, a 150-member symphony orchestra, and the Bells at Temple Square, a 32-member handbell choir, accompany the choir. All of the ensembles are all-volunteer.

“They are so committed. They are so wonderful, so disciplined, and so full of joy,” Suchet said last year. “They love what they do, and this is infectious. That commitment and belief in what they’re doing is wonderful to be part of. I will remember it for the rest of my life.”

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