Showing posts with label christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christmas. Show all posts

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Your Typical Christmas Show at NCT

With Thanksgiving still nearly two weeks away, it was no surprise that the crowd at New Candlelight Theater in Arden on Saturday was a bit smaller than usual. Don't expect such intimacy once the holiday season is in full swing. "A Very Candlelight Christmas" has been much-anticipated by fans of the dinner theater, not least of all because this seasonal production is an original, written and directed by NCT's Producing Artistic Director Chris Alberts and longtime friend Sonny Leo. For a theater that's done such familiar shows as "Cats" and "Annie" this season, the feeling of not having any idea what to expect is a definite change of pace.

 The show starts out like a typical Christmas variety show, complete with overly-enthusiastic hosts Katherine and Alan, comically played by Lindsay Mauck (who is underused in this production) and Tim Moudy. It's not long before the exuberant show derails, as the show-within-a-show's director, Devlin Powers (Patrick Hunt O'Hara), blows up at Katherine and sends everyone home, including his long-suffering brother Marcus (Paul Goodman). Not only does Devlin have no Christmas spirit, he's also sick to death of musical theater -- and thus begins his "Christmas Carol"-esque journey, complete with ghosts, time travel and  Bob Fosse.

A non-traditional set of Three Kings.
The NCT knows it draws lovers of musical theater, and almost all of the show's comedy references Broadway musicals. In that way, this is not a one-size-fits-all Christmas musical. It's for theater people, including die-hard fans. The Three Kings (also the ghosts of Christmas Past) are Don Quixote (Paul Goodman), the King of Siam (Andre Dion Wills) and "Fiddler on the Roof's" Teyve (Dave Snyder). Audrey III from "Little Shop of Horrors" even makes an appearance. It's more focused than it sounds, but some scenes work better than others. Tommy (Dan Sanchez) and Alan's rendition of "Baby It's Cold Outside" would have felt edgier if TV's "Glee" hadn't done a male duet version of it last Christmas, but Candlelight's version does have its own unexpected twist. And while some numbers, such as the Chanukah medley, seem to come out of nowhere, all of the musical numbers are well done. Standouts include "Shall We Dance" with young Zach Pennington and Jamieson O'Brien; "There's a Christmas Song for Every Situation" with Kaylan Wetzel Acon; and a very moving "Auld Lang Syne."

The often self-deprecating show pokes fun of beloved Broadway shows, but, of course, it's all in good fun. Just as it ultimately celebrates "that barn in Delaware," it also loves musical theater in a way only those who have made it their lives can.

"A Very Candlelight Christmas" runs through December 23; The 2012 Season starts up on January 27 with "Miss Saigon."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Scary Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night

Evangelina. Photo: Holly Quinn
Brianna Hansen's Nightmare Before Christmas Party, held December 4 upstairs at OperaDelaware, featured my very favorite things: creepiness, Christmas, music, wine and local-artist shopping. Inspired by the Tim Burton film by the same name, it was Halloween-meets-Christmas, complete with costumes and mashup decorations (most impressive: the lovely Christmas tree topped with a glittering skull).

Singer-songwriter Evangelina started off the night's live music in the spirit of the scene, opening with her take on songs from Nightmare Before Christmas, followed by traditional (and one not-so-traditional) Christmas songs. I really enjoyed the short set and am looking forward to checking out her original music. She was followed by The Way It Is, aka Michael Sanchez, who came all the way from Chicago with his drum kit and electro backing tracks. It's unusual to see a solo artist on the drums -- and very cool. Local faves The Hold Up put on a great rock 'n roll set with original songs like "Zombies Ate My Neighbors" that kept the spirit going as the night rolled on. Newark singer-songwriter Rory Sullivan performed songs from his debut CD Here All Along (available on his website) before the night capped off with DJs and dancing.

The Hold Up
It's not too late to buy gifts from some of the local artists featured -- Kristin Margiotta, Malika Oyetimein, Leila Marvel, and Pat Higgins all sell their art, books, jewelry and more online.