The small cast of four experienced performers gave their all in this fast-paced, variety-style revue, and their efforts were rewarded with well-deserved laughter and hearty applause. Combining humor, warmth, and near perfect harmonies, the ensemble explored the appeal of the season to all ages.
The show was conceived, directed, and staged by Pamela Reckamp, undoubtedly enhancing the cohesive feel of the evening. Making good use of the format, short vignettes set the scene for the musical numbers, and placing the band on stage added to the variety show aesthetic.
A comfortable, homey set was the perfect background for the show and the lighting was effectively unobtrusive, more choices that made the audience feel they were part of a live TV audience. Solo performances were interspersed between the group numbers, allowing for quick costume changes that kept the evening moving.
While the emphasis here was clearly on the songs, the actors each turned in solid performances as eager children, fun-loving adults, and lively seniors. The "kids" were delightfully bright-eyed and enthusiastic, while the "seniors" sweetly reminded us that joy can be found at any age. Jon Hey and Anna Blair stood out for their charm, charity, and enthusiasm in the childhood scenes, while Lee Anne Mathews and Jeffrey Pruett were warm and sympathetic as residents of a retirement home.
But it is, after all, the songs that are central to this show and the music does not disappoint. The four actors are all strong singers individually, and together they delivered wonderfully layered harmonies and complex arrangements. Hey and Blair have exceptional range and clarity, moving easily through the melodies and hitting all the right soaring notes. They are perfectly complemented by the rich, earthy tones of Mathews and Pruett, who add important depth and resonance to the songs.
On the critical side, I wished a little more thought had been put into the adult costumes the actors wore the majority of the show. Additionally, the dancing was rough in most places, perhaps the result of a short rehearsal period. Though, to be honest, dancing is generally not a highlight of a variety show and is easily forgiven.
Selected songs range from the familiar and cherished, some with inventively twisted lyrics, to lesser-known seasonal numbers. A few of the songs touched on more somber subject matter, but most selections were hopeful and filled with wonder. The mix was thoughtfully ordered, and I left the theater with a few new titles to add to my holiday playlist. Capping off the night, the actors stayed on stage after the curtain to lead the audience in a spirited sing-along while the hat was passed to collect donations for an energy-assistance charity program.
Dramatic License Productions performance of "A Holiday Music Revue" was an entertaining evening and, for me, a fabulous way to kick-start my holiday celebrations. I hope the revue returns next year, I'd like to get a group of friends together and play the part of the live studio audience. For more information about upcoming Dramatic License Productions visit www.dramaticlicenseproductions.org.