Haul out the Christmas spirit of love, joy, fun, and excitement with Musical Theater Heritage’s yuletide offering, “A Spectacular Christmas Show,” running now through Dec. 23 in Kansas City’s Crown Center at the MTH theater.
Just like the title says, “Spectacular” justifies the name with solid and lively performances by the cast, band, and comes complete with a visit from St. Nick, himself. George Harter, founder and executive director of MTH introduces the show and later provides two personal insights into Christmas–one a written piece and another, a cherished memory of his past. Those stories go along with some personal recollections of cast members that tell their favorite Christmas memory and encourage audience members to recall their special times.
Act I featured music from musical theater, some well-known, some obscure. The mood was happy and light as the nearly hour first act played out. The act included music from “Elf,” “White Christmas,” “Mame,” “A Christmas Story,” Subways Are for Sleeping,” “Nuncrackres,” Rent,” “Hands on a Hardbody,” and “She Loves Me.”
Act II opened with the Andy Williams hit, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” What followed was a cavalcade of Christmas music and nods to the Jewish faith were included in a light-hearted pair of songs. And, also included were some religious and some traditional songs of the upbeat theme of the show that was written by Tim Scott.
“A Spectacular Christmas Show” encourages patrons to just stop for a couple of hours, sit back, and enjoy the musical feast before them. Music to please almost every taste (heavy metal and rap excluded) leaves the audience filled with pleasant thoughts and provides a boost to the holiday spirit. In the holiday frenzy, a well-deserved break helps lift spirits and recall happy Christmas themes.
The standing ovation signals the audience’s appreciation to the efforts put forth. Standout performances come from Ron Lackey’s several numbers, Seth Jones, Bob Waring, Judy Simmons, and 15-year-old Fisher Stewart. The ensemble cast all possess strong, clear voices and “Spactacular Christmas” serves them up, beautifully. Many cast members divulge their Christmas memories before delivering their song. The personal narratives leading into each song creates a bond with the performer and audience. The result is a beautiful pairing.
Musical Theater Heritage’s “Christmas Spectacular” stands out because if offers such an uplifting and happy message. Yes, the show contains plenty of somber times, but those are offset with lively music interspersed to keep the mood and theme light. The cast continues to smile and move throughout the show where the choreography combines with the music to keep the audience’s attention. And, what show can be also display the talents of pianist Jeremy Watson?
Watson and his band, Jeremy Watson on piano, Joey Penella on bass, Brian ruskin on guitar, and Tod Barnard on percussion. Such talent cannot be overlooked. They provided great accompaniment to the musical talent who sang and spoke the program.
The cast for “A Spectacular Christmas Show” is: Taylor Avazpour, Andrea Boswell-Burns, Seth Jones, Ron Lackey, Maggie Marx, Vincent Onofrio Monachino, Elise Poehling, Abigail Rose Sharp, Judy Simmons, Emily Shackelford, Fisher Stewart, and Bob Waring. The production team is: George Harter, executive director, Jeremy Watson, musical director, Tim Scott, director, Chad Gerlt, executive producer, Shane Rowse, lighting, Trevor Belt, assistand director, John Hileman, sound, Christing Burton, choreographer.
“A Spectacular Christmas Show” continues through Dec. 23. The show plays at the Musical Heritage Theater in Crown Center. For tickets and other information, go to the Musical Theater Heritage website.