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BWW Review: THE SPECTACULAR CHRISTMAS SHOW at Musical Theater Heritage

Virtual Spectacular Christmas is a musical knockout

BWW Review: THE SPECTACULAR CHRISTMAS SHOW at Musical Theater Heritage
The cast of MTH's Spectacular Christmas Show

Kansas City is home to a number of holiday treasures. One that I always enjoy is the "The Spectacular Christmas Show" usually playing inside Crown Center at Musical Theater Heritage. Covid-19 has forced the "Christmas Show" off the main stage, but fear not. "The Spectacular Christmas Show" has been re-incarnated virtually and has not lost much on the "Spectacular" scale and lost nothing in musical performance.

BWW Review: THE SPECTACULAR CHRISTMAS SHOW at Musical Theater Heritage
Alison Sneegas Borberg

The video version for 2020 was conceived, directed, videoed, and hosted by MTH Executive Artistic Director Tim Scott. One of the most distinctive features of the annual production has been the choice by Scott of unusual and unexpected arrangements of musical numbers not previously played to death along with a nice selection of traditional holiday tunes.

There is an excellent cast of five plus the well-known Dickens' Carolers founded by Brad Zimmerman from the Chestnut Fine Arts Center in Olathe. The cast is (in alphabetical order) Taylor Avazpour, Alison Sneegas Borberg, Toni Gates, Jessalyn Kincaid, and Ron Lackey in front of an excellent four person combo. The combo is Musical Director Mark Ferrell on keyboard, Cindy Egger on guitar, Joey Panella on bass, and Tod Barnard on Drums. The carolers are Janelle Grimes, Dalene White, Perry White, and Brad Zimmerman. Set design is by Mark Exline.

BWW Review: THE SPECTACULAR CHRISTMAS SHOW at Musical Theater Heritage
Ron Lackey

I'm going to resist the temptation of singling out any one performer because they are all uniformly super. I am going to single out audio engineer Jon Robertson. The sound for this production is unexpectedly excellent. You can tell that the audio tracks were all recorded live and secondary shots done (in several other locations) later. They blend seamlessly. Someone (I suspect Tim Scott) has done a fine job of blending the various perspectives of the five performers, the band, and the carolers.

BWW Review: THE SPECTACULAR CHRISTMAS SHOW at Musical Theater Heritage
Jessalyn Kincaid

Tim invites us into his living room in front of the tree to explain the history behind many of the numbers and offer a tutorial on how to make his favorite version of hot chocolate. The first half of the presentation is full of traditional Christmas music like "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas," "Sleigh Ride," "White Christmas," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," "Winter Wonderland," and others. The second half of the show also features familiar tunes, but with inventive and welcome little known arrangements.

BWW Review: THE SPECTACULAR CHRISTMAS SHOW at Musical Theater Heritage
Toni Gates

A long time tradition at MTH has been MTH Founder George Harter's personal story of a single vintage 1951 tree ornament close to his heart. Tim has lured George out of retirement for a video retelling of his annual MTH Christmas tale.

MTH has put together a really good show under the circumstances. It is worth your time and the access price available from the MTH website. "The Spectacular Christmas Show" can be viewed on your computer or any home TV. It is a welcome respite from the usual holiday video-fare. I look forward to seeing the in-person version for 2021.


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From This Author Alan Portner