Friday, September 21, 2018
Stage

Review: Familiarity aside, Show Palace Christmas show is a sweet holiday treat

If you enjoyed last year's A Show Palace Christmas Spectacular, you will probably love this year's version. They're very much alike. In fact, the last half of the two-hour show is a duplicate of last year's, only with a few different singers and dancers.

Unlike last year's soft, mellow opening, this year's Show Palace Dinner Theatre production starts out lively, with 14 dancers in sparkling aqua and white swirling around the stage to an energetic The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (probably needed by patrons after all that tasty turkey tryptophan), followed by a soothing Silver Bells and the arrival of carolers, the women in costume coordinator Pat Werner's Victorian hoop skirts and bonnets, the men in cutaways, singing a cappella Christmas favorites.

Set designer Todd Everest creates a simple, twinkling city skyline backdrop, promising and delivering a sentimental, nostalgic show just right for the holiday season and a good destination for visiting friends and relatives, office parties, ladies' days out and, as the song goes, kids from 1 to 92. Or older. After all, this is Florida.

The show has all the familiar songs — a jazzy Jingle Bells, a lively We Need a Little Christmas, a dreamy Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas — and a tip of the hat to diversity with a Hanukkah song, Feast of Lights.

The mood grows serious as Kevin Korczynski does a powerful Let There Be Peace on Earth, his clear baritone enveloping the house. Show Palace regulars will remember him as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Like last year, Act 1 ends with a humorous take on Twas the Night Before Christmas, with the reindeer galloping through in sombreros tootling mariachi music, followed by a parody of The Nutcracker, with Clara depicted as a hippopotamus in a pink tutu and ending with a re-creation of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes' slowly falling wooden soldiers.

Act 2 brings back the King James Bible version of the nativity of Jesus, with Colleen Campbell as the angel Gabriel singing a strong, soaring Ave Maria and Jay R. Goldberg as Joseph, booming a moving O Holy Night. Jonathan Scott Roth is effective as narrator and does a soul-filled rendition of Go Tell It on the Mountain, backed by a the entire cast swinging, swaying and shaking their tambourines.

Director/choreographer Jill Godfrey and music director Matty Colonna did a fine job with this partially new take on an old and beloved holiday and, without pyrotechnics, gimmicks or special effects, deliver a sweet, wistful and sometimes humorous look at a happy holiday.

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