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Review: WE NEED A LOT OF CHRISTMAS Keeps the Holiday Spirit Alive

Event Venue in Greenbrier Provides the Ideal Seasonal Setting for Entertainment

Review: WE NEED A LOT OF CHRISTMAS Keeps the Holiday Spirit Alive
Curtis Reed and Dari-Anne Amato

Nothing can put you in the holiday spirit quite so quickly - or so successfully - as being treated to a musical presentation filled with Christmastide tunes, performed by a swell ensemble of uber-talented performers (with some comedy bits thrown in for good measure, along with a generous dollop of onstage magic)! And when it is preceded by a delicious dinner shared with a whole slew of folks seeking to capture the warmth and camaraderie of a holiday-themed spectacle...well, can it get any better?

That is exactly what is offered in We Need A Lot of Christmas, the holiday season musical spectacular - dubbed a "dinner show" in event parlance - presented at The Barn at Fiddle Dee Farms near Greenbrier (about 40 minutes from downtown Nashville proper). Continuing through December 31 (there's a huge New Year's Eve celebration planned for the show's closing performance), We Need A Lot of Christmas is produced by Barry and Dari Anne Amato, the creative team behind countless musical variety entertainments at Dollywood and at the Country Tonite Theater, both in Pigeon Forge in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. With their years of experience guaranteeing a fast-paced evening of entertainment, the Amatos very cleverly have drawn upon the wealth of onstage talent to be found in Music City to ensure audiences have as festive an evening as one could possibly imagine.

Review: WE NEED A LOT OF CHRISTMAS Keeps the Holiday Spirit Alive
Amanda Disney, Jordan Long, Barry Amato,
Jenny Norris, Bruce Amato, Billy Ditty, Curtis Reed
and Dari-Anne Amato

Filling a theatrical void left vacant by the closing of Nashville's venerable Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, We Need A Lot of Christmas is sure to evoke memories of past Christmastime productions at that legendary West Nashville theater and there is a palpable charm at Fiddle Dee Farms that is clearly reminiscent of earlier performances there.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Amatos have cast Curtis Reed, Jenny Norris, Billy Ditty and Charlynn Carter-Latto, all CBDT veterans, in their enormously likable ensemble. Joined by Belmont alum Jordan Long (who previously was part of the national tour of Rent) and Amanda Disney (who won critical acclaim earlier this season in the world premiere production of Krista Knight's original musical Sloppy Bonnie at Oz Arts), along with the startlingly versatile Amatos themselves (they sing, they dance, they clog and they apparently can do anything - Dari Anne's performance of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" alone is worth the price of admission).

Review: WE NEED A LOT OF CHRISTMAS Keeps the Holiday Spirit Alive
Dari-Anne Amato and Billy Ditty

Together, the eight-person ensemble give audiences a gleeful show, making merry and artfully blending heartfelt nostalgia with a sleek contemporary spark to offer something for everyone in their audience. If there's a holiday tune you love, chances are it's included in the show's wonderful score and it's performed confidently by the show's seasoned entertainers. Magician Bruce Amato helps to make transitions less noticeable by performing a plethora of tricks for fans as the hardworking actors change costumes and catch their breath amid the fast-paced onstage action.

The show allows each member of the ensemble to show off their estimable talents - Reed and Ditty are given plenty of opportunities to put their dancing expertise on full display, in addition to their crooner bona fides, while Long's own silken vocals show his range from showtunes to pop standards. Barry Amato handles the heavy lifting during the comedy sketches that punctuate both acts one and two and he proves a capable master of ceremonies (with maybe even a little bit of evangelistic fervor thrown in for good measure).

Review: WE NEED A LOT OF CHRISTMAS Keeps the Holiday Spirit Alive
Jordan Long and Amanda Disney

The aforementioned Dari-Anne Amato is in fine voice and she finds herself in good company with Norris, Carter-Latto and Disney, each of whom are given her moment in the spotlight to show off her own vocal chops. While the quick pace of the evening seems daunting for the performers, they nonetheless delight the audience with their exquisite musicianship: their harmonies are almost angelic.

We Need a Lot of Christmas. Produced by Barry and Dari-Anne Amato. Through December 31. Presented at The Barn at Fiddle Dee Farms, 7526 Swift Road, Greenbrier (just off exit 98 on Interstate 65N). For tickets, go to www.christmasdinnershow.com.



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From This Author - Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 35 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner l... (read more about this author)


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