BWW Review: HONKY TONK ANGELS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR Lands at Stages Repertory Theatre
The sequel to Ted Swindley's hit musical, THE HONKY TONK ANGELS, takes the stage at Stages Repertory Theatre this holiday season with THE HONKY TONK ANGELS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR. The Angels perform a holiday reunion concert in Nashville, and a new member of the Angels has stepped in to replace Angela (Chelsea Ryan McCurdy) until she returns. When Angela arrives, ready to join the fun, the Angels discover she's ready to give birth at any moment. The show runs through December 31, 2016, closing with a special New Year's Eve performance.
The HONKY TONK ANGELS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR, directed by Mitchell Greco and Josh Morrison, will bring you to tears of laughter and makes for a perfect date night this holiday season. The Christmas tree in the lobby is adorned with Lone Star Beer cans and a cowboy hat sits at its apex. The show encourages you to sit back, relax and enjoy the show with a cold one (if you're at least 21).
When you walk into the space, you're transported to the Honky Tonk Heaven stage in Nashville that appeared in the first production. Once again, we see the beautiful set along with the LED star in the center of the stage floor. However, this time there are quarter note, treble clef, and bass clef shaped snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. There is garland lining columns and walls. Spherical lights hang upstage where the band plays, and the holiday mood is in full swing as the show opens with "Jingle Bell Rock."
Don't feel like you have to have seen the first part of this trilogy in order to follow what's happening. Ted Swindley fills us in on all of the characters so that you can enjoy this show on its own. Chelsea Ryan McCurdy, Kelley Peters, and Holland Vavra return as the Honky Tonk Angels. But now a new angel is featured, Charilee, played by Christina Edwards Wells. Charilee is a psychic manicurist who has stepped in to temporarily replace Angela.
When Angela returns she's disguised as Santa, beard, bag, and all. We come to find out she's pregnant, but as a fan of Charilee, couldn't sit at home in Texas while the Angels had fun performing with her. The story centers on Angela and the birth of her child which could happen at a moment's notice. Off stage, we hear the car horn of Bubba, Angela's husband, who decided to sit in the car to listen to Aggie football on the radio. The other angels continue their character narratives: Sue Ellen is looking for a man to call her own, and Darlene is looking to get a record contract.
Some of the notable songs of the evening included "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" sung by Angela, "Coat of Many Colors" sung by Darlene, "Blue Christmas" sung by Sue Ellen, and "Silent Night" sung by Charilee. There were countless songs that left the audience roaring with laughter such as "12 Days of Redneck Christmas," "Little Old Lady From Pasadena," and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." There were some hilarious moments such as when Sue Ellen asks the men in the audience making a million dollars or more to sing a line from "Feliz Navidad" and the improvised interactions between Angela and audience members about Hostess Sno Balls.
Despite the show leaning heavily on the revue side of performance, there seems to be no detriment to the narrative. There was more character development in the first HONKY TONK ANGELS installment than this one, but THE HONKY TONK ANGELS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR is just as enjoyable. The show is a wonderful piece of entertainment and ushers Houston into the holiday spirit with memorable music, comedic characters, and excellent performances.
The HONKY TONK ANGELS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR by Ted Swindley makes its regional premiere at Stages Repertory Theatre from November 9 through December 31, 2016. Ticket information can be found at stagestheatre.com.