Holidays at the 'hills: That's Entertainment
Holidays at the ‘hills
A brand new all-musical celebration of the season
Conceived by Russell Garrett and Jim Rice; Director/Choreographer, Russell Garrett; Vocal & Orchestral Arrangements, Jim Rice; Musical Director, Fred Frabotta; Set Designer, Erik Diaz; Costume Designer, Kurt Hultgren; Lighting Designer, Chris Fournier; Sound Designer, Ed Thurber; Prop Designer, David Allen Prescott; Stage Manager, Steven Espach
Musicians: Fred Frabotta, Musical Director/Keyboard; Zach Chadwick, Reeds; Pieter Sturyck, Percussion; Kevin Grudecki, Guitar; Marliese Ballin, Bass
Performances through December 28 at Foothills Theatre Company
Box Office 508-754-4018 or www.foothillstheatre.com
Artistic Director Russell Garrett and Musical Arranger/Worcester native Jim Rice have collaborated to present a seasonal entertainment to the patrons of the Foothills Theatre Company sans ghosts, Zuzu's petals, or morals of the story. In their stead, an ensemble of eight very talented young men and women sing, dance, and smile their hearts out in a world premiere musical revue of all things winter, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
With temperatures hovering around 30 degrees and the first light snow covering the ground outside, the audience drifted in, many wearing brightly colored holiday sweaters decorated with reindeer, ornaments, and snowflakes, creating a festive atmosphere in the somewhat chilly auditorium. Things warm up considerably when the cast, positioned on a central staircase flanked by faux gift boxes, opens with a medley of familiar songs and energetic pair dancing. They are a most appealing octet, equally adept vocally and tripping the light fantastic to Garrett's varied choreography. All but two of the performers have been on the boards here before, and newcomers Adam Estes and Kent Zimmerman are worthy and welcome additions to the Foothills company. Estes' dancing is both light and fantastic, while Zimmerman's vocals range from sweet and sonorous to earthy and raucous, but both men cover all the bases.
While there is minimal dialogue in Holidays at the ‘hills, there is a loose structure of a series of vignettes, the most developed being an office Christmas party and a 1960's style TV dance show. In the former, the actors take on stereotypical roles - among them, Andrew Giordano as the office Lothario, Estes as the token gay male, and Rebekah Turner as the wallflower-turned-hot mama. Merrill Peiffer belts it out as the frustrated single woman who asks that "Santa Bring Me a Man" for Christmas in the first of her several impressive solo turns, ably backed by three of the men dancing disco style while she and two other women roll around the stage on office chairs. The "Jambaroo" segment evokes the sensibility of the sixties (and the Foothills production of Beehive) as the women don big hairdos and massive petticoats under the flared skirts of their colorful print or plaid dresses, the men sport skinny neckties, and they all show off their retro dance skills doing the twist, the pony, and the monkey in a synchronized group.
Estes, Jacobs, and Peiffer are adorable as little children in flannel feet-pajamas gathered to hear "A Visit from St. Nicholas," but they steal their daddy's spotlight when Estes recites "I've Been a Bad Little Boy" and Jacobs struts around à la Shirley Temple in "I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas." Garrett, Estes, and Giordano have the audience eating out of their hands when they stroll out costumed as woeful giant slices of fruitcake bemoaning their unpopularity. However, they are able to find one woman in the audience who willingly receives a wrapped confection from them and pledges not to regift it or use it as a doorstop!