In the spirit of the 1960s holiday TV specials, the heartwarming, fuzzy, fun, and entertaining showcase of talent features a cast of Houston favorites. Walt Agnew, Grace Givens, Brad Goertz, Danica Dawn Johnston, Chelsea Lerner, Jim Salners, Tamara Siler, Jay Tribble, Susan Agnew, Faith Taylor, and Olivia Holm all take the stage and are set to fill audiences with gleeful holiday spirit. Being light and wholly entertaining from beginning to end, the evening plays out like a Christmas themed variety show. And since all good variety shows need special celebrity guests, The Country Playhouse provides Houston audiences with Warner Roberts, best known for hosting "The Warner Roberts Show" on KRIV-TV, and Ernie Manouse, a Houston PBS anchor and producer.
Carrie Woliver's direction is crisp and fast paced. Even in rehearsal, each resplendently charming segment moved at a comfortable speed. The transitions between segments were quick and kept me on my toes, anticipating what was coming up next. Moreover, whether it was a funny piece or a sentimentally sweet piece, each number will undoubtedly affect the audience and elicit genuine emotional responses. All of this is aided by Lee La Forge's excellent musical direction, which ensures every pitch is perfectly tuned and beautifully sung. Lastly, the choreography throughout the show, especially for the three high school aged dancers, is superb for the purpose of the event. It all flows smoothly and looks great in the presentation, adding another layer of warm, fluffy fun to the charismatic performances.
At the rehearsal I attended, I enjoyed every performance given. However, I did have a handful of favorite standout moments too. At the top of the show, Grace Givens sings a high energy rendition of "We Need A Little Christmas," which left me wanting to see her star in a production of MAME. "What a Wonderful World," sung by Jay Tribble was a true delight and surprise. I had never thought of that song as a holiday song, but it fits the theme and mood of the show well and is masterfully performed. "All I Want for Christmas Is You," as performed by Danica Dawn Johnston, is a sublimely showstopping enchantment! Jim Salners' "Santa Comes to Texas" is a hilarious, romping number that will leave the audience grinning. The women's rendition of "Hard Candy Christmas" is mesmerizing and hauntingly beautiful. Brad Goertz's "Just in Time for Christmas" is a spellbinding phenomenon. He will easily move audiences with his stunning voice and the heartrending lyrics. Tamar Siler's "Dear Santa" is raucous and family-friendly yet racy fun that will easily earn hearty guffaws. Also, audiences will not want to miss the powerful and impressive encore, so make sure you stick around after the curtain call.
The whimsical YULETIDE CABARET will run for three performances only. It opens with a cocktail reception gala at 6:30pm and performance on Friday, November 30, 2012. Food and wine for the gala will be provided by Brio's Tuscan Grill at City Center. The gala is co-chaired by Carrie Woliver and Stephanie Linhart. Tickets for the November 30 gala event and performance are $50 each.
The show will have one evening performance on Saturday and one matinee performance on Sunday. Tickets for these performances are $28.00 for adults and $25 for students and seniors. Groups of 20 or more receive a $5.00 discount off each individual adult ticket price. To make reservations, please visit http://www.countryplayhouse.org or call (713) 467 – 4497.
All photos courtesy of The Country Playhouse.
The men of YULETIDE CABARET.