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Review: A JOLLY HOLIDAY: CELEBRATING DISNEY'S BROADWAY HITS at Skylight Music Theatre

Review: A JOLLY HOLIDAY: CELEBRATING DISNEY'S BROADWAY HITS at Skylight Music Theatre

Jolly Holiday is a must-go holiday party for Disney fans.

For a Disney fan, going to Skylight Music Theatre's "A Jolly Holiday: Celebrating Disney's Broadway Hits" is like being invited to the best tree-trimming party ever. A room full of people who love Disney and love singing showtunes (but are WAY more talented than you are.)

Singing hits from "Beauty and the Beast" to "Frozen," is the adult cast of Daryn Alexus, Joey Chelius, Shawn Holmes, Kevin James Sievert and Samantha Sostarich.

They were backed up opening night by one of the two sets of young cast members: Taylor Arnstein, Bristol Beasley, Ella Caglin, Naima Gaines, Bennet Schoonover and Grant Schoonover.

The adults alternate their time in the spotlight, singing solos, duets and in ensemble. They are energetically backed up by the kids - who get even more stage time in the second act.

Alexus, who has a solo music career as well stage credits, shines brightest when in belting mode, in classics such as "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Part of Your World."

Chelius, Holmes, Sievert and Sostarich are all familiar faces at the Skylight and other Milwaukee stages.

Chelius, who takes an enthusiastically comic turn in "My Strongest Suit" - originally owned by diva Sherie Rene Scott in the "Aida" on Broadway - was recently seen in Skylight's "Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Holmes, memorable as Coalhouse Walker in the Middleton Players Theatre production of "Ragtime," is the heart and soul of the party, shining in everything from a hopping "Friend like Me" to the more soulful "Someday" - a lesser-known song from "Hunchback."

Sostarich also shows an impressive range when she gets the spotlight - whether she's navigating the stage version of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or considering building a snowman

And speaking of snowmen, Sievert (Seymour in Skylight's "Little Shop of Horrors") stops the show when channeling Olaf singing "In Summer" and melts hearts with Alexus in "Can You Feel the Love."

Broadway factoids tossed in between songs (to delight the Disnerds) occasionally seem random, but the play pokes fun at its own randomness, making a connection with the audience.

"Jolly Holiday" keeps the friendly connection going - talking directly to audience members throughout. The audience reciprocated opening night by singing along - whether they were asked to or not.

Directed by Michael Unger, Skylight's artistic director, with a book by Sandy Rustin, this production is only the second time this play has been staged.

The repertoire of favorites was written by the A list of Disney songwriters, including (but not limited to) Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, Elton John and Tim Rice, and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

Don't like Disney, Broadway or holiday cheer? Don't come to the Skylight until the new year. They don't need that kind of negativity. But if you do - get your tickets now. "Jolly Holiday" runs through December 31.

Image: Samantha Sostarich and Kevin James Sievert, backed up by young cast members. Photo by Mark Frohna.



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From This Author - Cathy Jakicic

Cathryn Jakicic has been writing about all things creative since working the late shift at Milwaukee’s morning newspaper right after college. She has worked at number of newspapers and magazi... (read more about this author)


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