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Review: ILLUMINATION Shines Bright at Prima

Imagine a Christmas filled with lights in ILLUMINATION.

Review: ILLUMINATION Shines Bright at Prima

Smart, stylish, sexy, intelligent. The perfect date? Yes, especially at Prima's delicious new Christmas event. A dark room illuminated with candles, a grand piano, and singers and dancers.

This, if anything, is the must-see show of the season. Whether Melrose Jackson is delivering her version of "Oh Holy Night," or Ellington Carthan at the piano is bringing out everyone's inner child from the beloved Peanuts Christmas special (Vince Gueraldi named that jazzy piece "Linus and Lucy"), or Elise Hayden and Isaac Velasquez are dancing around the room with some magnificent lifts, there's nothing not to inspire and delight.

Prima veteran Joshua William Green, the aforementioned Ms Johnson, Brendan Coulter and Sarah Shelton are a hard-to-beat foursome of indoor carolers, singing their way through the Christmas canon, sometimes with twists on tempos as a familiar carol first becomes tropical and then slides into "Don't Worry, Be Happy." There's a mix of old and new, religious and secular, and a perfectly lovely "Santa Baby," priceless even without Eartha Kitt's trademark purr.

It's perfectly suitable for a younger audience, but adults will appreciate it the most; it's as close to Manhattan cabaret as it is to feeling spiritually uplifted as you realize that among all the candles, LED lighting can begin to resemble rose windows in a church. If any note in the show rings false, it may be the inclusion of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which is not the religious song many people believe it to be (Cohen used Biblical metaphor to describe an unfortunate relationship he'd had.) Other than that, the show sparkles and dazzles.

Kudos to director and creator Mitch Nugent and to music director Carthan, as well as to the cast and other musicians. Through the 18th with extra performances added; visit Primatheatre.org.



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