BWW Review: A DOO WOP CHRISTMAS BRINGS HOLIDAY CHEER to Show Palace Dinner Theatre
The only person who could possibly leave the Show Palace Dinner Theatre not feeling in the holiday spirit after seeing A Doo Wop Christmas is the old Grinch himself. This show has everything -a storyline full of heart, humor, a gorgeous set, beautiful costumes, dance choreography, and cherished Christmas songs performed by the most incredible singers.
Directed by Pete Clapsis, the cast features 12 veteran Show Palace actors - Brianna Trier, Victoria Stinnett, Jay. R. Goldberg, Ellie Pattison, Jonathan Scott Roth, Kevin Korcynski, Patrick Marshall Jr., Josh Hayes, Craig Franke, Lindsay Nantz, Colleen Campbell, Brittany Ambler, and the debut of 8-year-old Rose Carpenter. Each one brings something special to this performance.
Designed by Todd Everest, in the first act, center stage is decorated like the backdrop of a city at Christmas, and to the left - an upstairs attic filled with family musical history and to the right -a malt shop, resplendent in red, black and chrome. An opening of the curtain reveals the Rudolph family living room decked out for Christmas. In the second act, a nativity scene and church at Mass take center stage, later ending to the interior of the family home.
The original production, written by Matthew Belopavlovich, tells the tale of Eve (Brianna Trier) coping with the loss of her beloved Grandpa. Relatable to anyone who is missing a loved one during Christmas, while Eve's family gathers to celebrate- sing, dance, and drink hot cocoa, she doesn't feel the same holiday spirit and escapes into the upstairs attic. Her performance of "Miss You Most at Christmas Time" has the audience feeling her heart break.
Grandma Rudolph (Ellie Patterson) soon follows upstairs and introduces Eve to music of her era on vintage records and a record player. "The ipod for your Grandpa and me," she explains.
The center stage is transformed into the set of American Bandstand. A trio of singers (Lindsay Nantz, Brittany Ambler and Colleen Campbell) dance in white go-go boots and flashy costumes, superbly perform the iconic can't-be-Christmas-without-it "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and other holiday classics.
In a show filled with my favorite music, Patterson's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and Victoria Stinnett's "A Grown-Up Christmas List" were so emotion-filled and, to me, better than the originals.
Though every song is executed perfectly, with no background music overpowering the vocals, I could have listened to the entire show a cappella - the voices are just that good.
I could easily hear "We Need a Little Christmas" and "Do You Hear What I Hear" performed by Jonathan Scott Roth, Kevin Korczynski, Craig Franke, Patrick Marshall Jr. and Josh Hayes on the radio today.
Colleen Campbell's a cappella rendition of "Oh Holy Night" set against a nativity backdrop literally gave me goosebumps, especially when she exceeds the high notes needed for "fall on your knees and hear the angels' voices...." Kevin Korcynski's "Let There Be Peace on Earth" was incredibly moving.
But it wasn't all serious - Jay. R. Goldberg had the audience laughing out loud doing the Peppermint Twist and then impersonating Elvis in "Blue Christmas." Not only does he have the pipes, Goldberg has the moves! I loved Trier's authentic teenage reaction of embarrassment at Goldberg's swiveling hips.
And the introduction of Rose Carpenter as Noelle literally had the audience awing in unison.
Take a two hour break this hectic holiday season and give yourself a gift. Go see A Doo Wop Christmas at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre. The only person who won't leave smiling has a heart two-sizes too small.
Matinees and evenings through Dec. 25 at Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson, FL. Dinner and show, $50.50, plus tax and tip; show only, group, and youth tickets available. Call (727) 863-7949.