By Kristi Andrus, Guest Blogger
“For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home.”
Ok, if you read my preview, you know I’m a confessed Christmas-a-holic and was really looking forward to Home for the Holidays at Lone Tree Arts Center. You also know that the theme this year is holidays through the ages and the show is appropriate for audiences of all ages, so I attended with my five-year-old daughter and she can be a tough critic. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to report that it lived up to the hype for both of us.
The show opened with a soloist and shadow dancers that spelled out holiday words with their bodies behind the screen, which was an entertaining effect that immediately grabbed the audience. (There was a great band on stage throughout the show too, and other than a guitar solo during the Christmas-fied “Yuletide Bohemian Rhapsody,” the saxophone clearly was the star.)
Emcee (Rob Costigan) provided a funny break between sets and Santa (Colin Alexander) and Mrs. Claus (Margie Lamb) co-hosted, bantered, and regularly burst into song. They both have beautiful voices as they recalled moments from each decade, and my daughter waved and clapped every time they returned to stage. She wasn’t the only child to do that.
Starting with the 50s, the cast danced, sang, drummed, and played their way through the decades. The songs were infectious with surprises and funny moments that kept everyone on their toes. “Blue Christmas” seemed to be a crowd favorite.
The sets were bright and retro, as were the costumes – the black and white mini dresses of the 60s were my favorite. Fair warning…there were a lot of food references: “he puts the chocolate chip in your cookies” for example, so don’t come hungry. At one point, they even called out to the audience to acknowledge their calorific recipes.
After intermission, there was another sax solo as we entered the 80s, and the drummers impressed with buckets and pans, and then beatboxing! Another clever Christmas-fied song was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” performed by Elves (on Shelves).
Deep bass and hip hop breakdancers reminded me why I loved college. Then, when a young boy (Jonathan Jaramillo) found a Zoltar fortune teller and wished to become a great performer, it was a believable transformation. He had the charisma, voice, and moves of a young star. And special guest Sheryl McCallum from Broadway’s The Lion King nailed “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
The children’s choir spoofed “12 Days of Christmas” by pretending to be adults lamenting the responsibilities of the season: 5 months of bills, fat pants, and no batteries included received many knowing smiles and groans from the audience. The “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” rap felt relevant, not campy, even though (or maybe because?) the stage was filled with dancers in glitter jackets, violinists, drummers with glowing drums, and a Sia-inspired young girl.
The show ended with a dance party and my daughter jumped out of her seat to participate. It was after all, a Christmas version of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” She literally couldn’t stop. How would any five-year-old resist the biggest Trolls song of the year?
All in all, the show was fun and sweet, nostalgic and current, so truly, there was something for everyone. We loved it and you will too.
Playing now through Sunday, December 17 at Lone Tree Arts Center. For tickets and more information go to: http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/homefortheholidays