From ‘Downton Abbey’ to downtown Salt Lake City, Hugh Bonneville joins Mormon Tabernacle Choir for Christmas shows

Music • Broadway star Sutton Foster headlines the concerts.

(Courtesy of Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for Masterpiece) Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham, in "Downton Abbey."

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas concerts will have a British flair yet again. Following his countrymen Martin Jarvis, Jane Seymour, Michael York, Claire Bloom and Angela Lansbury (not to mention Irish actor Roma Downey and Welshman John Rhys-Davies), actor Hugh Bonneville — best-known for his six seasons as Robert, Earl of Grantham, on “Downton Abbey” — will narrate this year’s shows.

What will his role in Salt Lake City entail? “I know it’s always a surprise, but I can say it will be pretty epic,” Bonneville said in a phone chat from his home “in the lush, green, usually damp countryside” of West Sussex. “It will be very touching and uplifting and will project a great reminder of the seasonal spirit.”

His friends York and Jarvis helped persuade him to take the gig; Jarvis called the experience “overwhelming, in a good way,” Bonneville recalled.

The Cambridge-educated actor has appeared in films including “Notting Hill,” “The Monuments Men” and the two “Paddington” movies. He recently signed on as host of “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration” on PBS’ “Great Performances.”

“I can only describe it as a complete plunge into the unknown,” he said of the yearly special that features the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Ballet. “I’m a blank canvas, plunging into my research, getting material together so I appear vaguely knowledgeable.” His role as host will be to “introduce and put into context great items of music and dance. This is a musical celebration that draws people together.”

(Photo courtesy of Laura Marie Duncan) Broadway star Sutton Foster will headline the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 2017 Christmas concerts.

Guest vocalist on the Tabernacle Choir concerts will be Sutton Foster, winner of Tony Awards for her roles in “Anything Goes” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Her other Broadway credits include “Little Women,” “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Shrek the Musical.” She currently stars in the TV Land comedy-drama “Younger” and has made guest appearances on series as diverse as “Sesame Street” and “Flight of the Conchords.”

Christmas with the choir<br>The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will present their Christmas concerts featuring Broadway star Sutton Foster and British actor Hugh Bonneville.<br>When • Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14-16, 8 p.m.<br>Where • LDS Conference Center, 60 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City<br>Didn’t get tickets? • If you didn’t get one of the free tickets, try the standby line, which starts at the north gate of Temple Square. You’ll be seated in the Tabernacle to wait for available seats in the Conference Center, and you can stay there and watch a live broadcast if you don’t get in.<br>Also • Foster and Bonneville will appear on the choir’s weekly broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word” Sunday, Dec. 17, at 9:30 a.m. in the Conference Center. No tickets are required, but be in your seat by 9:15 — or just tune in to KSL (Channel 5).

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