BWW Interview: Mary Nye Bennett Directs Some of the Best Atlanta Singers for YOUR HAPPY HOLIDAY at Atlanta Lyric Theatre
I recently spoke with Mary Nye Bennett who is directing the inaugural holiday show for Atlanta Lyric Theatre, Your Happy Holiday, which will be performed at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre (548 South Marietta Pkwy., Marietta), Dec. 20-23.
ME: So, from what I've read, this will be a kind of cabaret style show?
Mary Nye Bennett: It's definitely structured like a review-there's no book-it's all music, so think big band on stage, grand piano on stage, Rockettes dancing, and Atlanta Lyric Theatre's best singers. So anyone that you've seen playing leading roles, singing their face off, that's who we've cast for this. It's a very high energy show with lots of heart, so it's everything that our patrons have come to expect from a Lyric show, but with all of your favorite Christmas songs and holiday songs.
(For more specifics, the cast includes, Chase Peacock(Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me if You Can), Alison Wilhoit (Tarzan, Legally Blonde), QUENTIN BROWN(Shrek, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels),J Koby Parker(Tarzan, My Fair Lady), Kandice Arrington (The Full Monty), Logan Denninghoff (Beauty and the Beast, Barnum),Kayce Grogan Wallace (Shrek, Dreamgirls), Jessica De Maria (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Edges) and JAMIE KATZ(The Full Monty, Legally Blonde).
ME: And there will be dancing?
Mary Nye Bennett: Oh, yes. We have a cast of twelve dancers.
(Again, for Atlanta audiences familiar with the dancers, the dance ensemble includes CJ BABB, Sterling McClary, Jenna Jackson MORRIS, DJ Grooms, LAUREN TATUM, ALLISON FISHER, BECKY SIMMONS, MORGAN HAWKINS, Imani Joseph, EMILY WILLIS, and PAIGE McCORMICK.)
ME: And you'll have a special guest during the matinees?
Mary Nye Bennett: Yes, at the two matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday, anyone who's brought their children will be able to meet Santa after the show. There will be holiday cookies, coloring pages, and things like that for the children, and maybe snapping a picture with Santa. The School Box Company will be sponsoring that event.
ME: So I'm interested in hearing more about the composition of the show. Are there scenes, or is it one song after another, and do the dances go with the songs?
Mary Nye Bennett: We kind of structured it in different sections. We'll open with a classic, vintage kind of Christmas feel, very Irving Berlin, and as the show progresses it definitely becomes more contemporary, think Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." So it has an arc of vintage to a more modern feel.
ME: And the costumes reflect that arc?
Mary Nye Bennett: Yes, again with the style of the songs, we're going to have the costumes fit the era of the songs, going from 50's swing to tuxedos and evening gowns toward the end. It's a family friendly show, though it's not necessarily geared toward children, but it's definitely appropriate and fun for the whole family, so ages five and up will enjoy it as much as the adults.
ME: So what has directing a show of this kind been like?
Mary Nye Bennett: It's fun. I'm partnered with two of my best not only collaborators but friends in town. The Music Director is Amanda Wansa Morgan who is not only a very dear friend but an amazing Music Director. And then Ricardo Aponte is one of my oldest friends in the Atlanta theatre community, and he is the Choreographer. So it's a Dream Team and doesn't feel like work.
YOUR HAPPY HOLIDAY performs December 20-23, 2018, at 8pm on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd, with matinees at 2pm on December 22 & 23. Tickets are on sale at www.atlantalyric.com or call 404-377-9948.
Photo credit: Jamie Katz Photography