Review: CORI CABLE KIDDER'S HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR at Sierra Madre Playhouse

Don’t miss the enchanting nostalgia, holiday merriment and velvety 1940s music through December 23rd

By: Nov. 27, 2023
Review: CORI CABLE KIDDER'S HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR at Sierra Madre Playhouse

Cori Cable Kidder's Holiday Spectacular is a marvelous musical holiday revue at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. More than a show, Cori Cable Kidder's Holiday Spectacular is a transportive experience, an escape into a charmed world of nostalgia, holiday merriment and velvety 1940s music of breathtaking loveliness. The Sierra Madre Playhouse is a charming, intimate landmark historic theatre from 1910, on a sleepy, tree-lined main street in Sierra Madre. Up against the foothills of the piney San Gabriel Mountains, the whole place feels like classic small town Americana.  It is like walking onto the live set of a Christmas movie.  Across the street, Sierra Madre’s cozy hometown restaurant from 1945, The Only Place In Town, has a huge Christmas tree and a mailbox for letters for Santa. You really could not conjure up a more idyllic setting for a heartwarming vintage holiday show like Cori Cable Kidder's Holiday Spectacular.

The music is simply wonderful, with too many great classic songs to count, from “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” to “White Christmas”, “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”, “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm”, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Review: CORI CABLE KIDDER'S HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR at Sierra Madre Playhouse
Sean Paxton, Dave Valentino,
Cori Cable Kidder, and Mike Flick
in Cori Cable Kidder's Holiday Spectacular

From bouncy, boogie-in-your-seat swing dance numbers to heartwarming Christmas songs to bittersweet, mournful ballads full of tenderness and longing, the is a musical revue of sheer loveliness, with the luscious caramel sound of the 1940s music, the soft moody lighting (splendid work from lighting designer Jeanne Marie Valleroy) and lovely backdrop of cool blue stars and sparkling white trees.

Cori Cable Kidder's Holiday Spectacular is a wistful, cheery mixture of wartime effort sacrifice, big band party celebration, stirring patriotism, satiny Christmas ballads, va-va-voom foxiness and humor “with a word from our sponsors” and vintage posters of Brylcreem and Old Spice.  Whether Cori Cable Kidder is joking about her unflattering Army-issue USO tour clodhoppers, reciting FDR wartime speeches, holding up a picture of her grandfather and talking about his part in WWII, or tap dancing her way through a big number in slinky rhinestones and red satin, she is a consummate host for this music and this era. Direction of the show is excellent by Christine Negherbon, an accomplished musical director and performer, master teaching artist at Disneyland and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Review: CORI CABLE KIDDER'S HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR at Sierra Madre Playhouse
Jim Miller and Cori Cable Kidder

Cori Cable Kidder is a local favorite chanteuse, storyteller and show creator at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, with many sold-out runs and award-winning shows to her credit, starting with playing Patsy Cline in 2015 and her sold-out hit holiday show last year. In her incarnation as a 1940s bombshell and Army girl, Kidder has that satiny golden radiance, all luscious doll curls and red lipstick, conjuring up visions of Veronica Lake or the incomparable Rita Hayworth as Gilda.  Perky and peachy, Cori Cable Kidder is a spunky sweet hometown girl from the Arkansas Delta town of Wynne, west of the Mississippi River and Memphis.  At times she reminds me a bit of Dolly Parton, which I think is a big part of her charm.  Her voice shines best when she purrs low and velvety in the slow, caramel ballads of the 1940s era, along with her truly extraordinary saxophone player Dave Victorino (known for his work playing with the greats like The Temptations and his number one bestselling jazz albums), who is a whole concert in himself. 

Led with great musical direction by award-winning composer and pianist Sean Paxton, Kidder has a fantastic jazz quartet, with Mike Flick on bass (member of the Glenn Miller, Harry James, Jimmy Dorsey and Buddy Childers big bands and backer of Bonnie Pointer (Pointer Sisters) and Rod Stewart, among many others) and Jim Miller on drums (known for his work in the Jimmy Dorsey big band, in Hamburg jazz clubs and in dozens of Broadway shows, and as musical director of Circus Vargas).  Together they create something of oaky, exquisite warmth and golden richness, that cozy, nostalgic, fireplace jazz sound beloved in classic holiday albums like Vince Guaraldi’s iconic Charlie Brown Christmas.  I could close my eyes and listen to them all day.

Review: CORI CABLE KIDDER'S HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR at Sierra Madre Playhouse
Dave Valentino, Cori Cable Kidder, and Mike Flick 

Since the sleepy alpine hamlet of Sierra Madre tends to close up shop early, I would recommend coming early to the show if you can, spending some time wandering down the lovely main streets, maybe finding something to eat or drink at locals’ favorite The Only Place In Town or another charming spot (the Sierra Madre Playhouse itself does not offer food or beverages beyond some great coffee in the lobby). There is also majestic hiking nearby through the craggy old oaks, nasturtium fields and mountain views of the Bailey Canyon wilderness, which I enjoyed before the show.

The Sierra Madre Playhouse itself is pretty as a Bing Crosby picture for the holidays, decorated festively and it feels so intimate, warm and cozy.  There isn’t a more enchanting place to find yourself some holiday cheer, and some dreamy, nostalgic Christmas songs, than Cori Cable Kidder's Holiday Spectacular.

Photos by Berrie Tsang

Cori Cable Kidder's Holiday Spectacular runs through December 23rd. The Sierra Madre Playhouse is located 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd Sierra Madre, CA 91024.  Parking is free in lots behind the theatre or streets nearby.  You can get tickets by calling 626.355.4318 or by clicking the link below:




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