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Christmas Canteen

a Holiday Musical
by Brandon O’Dell

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4993

SHOWING : November 17, 2016 - December 23, 2016



An Aurora Theatre original and Gwinnett’s longest-running theatrical holiday tradition, CHRISTMAS CANTEEN 2016 returns to the Aurora stage this November for its 21st season run! An audience favorite, this nostalgic musical revue is a Winter Wonderland that just keeps getting better! Sketch comedy mixed with theatrical numbers and singing galore, CHRISTMAS CANTEEN 2016 is a variety show that should be on every person’s Christmas list!

Director Jen MacQueen
Director Anthony Rodriguez
Cast Jen MacQueen
Cast Christian Magby
Cast Brandon Odell
Cast Lyndsay Ricketson
Cast Cecil E. Washington Jr.
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Christmas Spirit to Make You Sing
by notoriousdad
Friday, December 23, 2016
What a fun show! In its 21st year, Christmas Canteen is fresh, energizing, and poignant. The songs, medleys, and mashups make sure that you will hear all the best Christmas songs with a twist(s) and the performers favorite songs are audience favorites, too. If you miss it this year, Christmas Canteen is an annual event worth your time for this year and future years. I promise that we sang along, even when it was only a whisper. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Upping Their Game
by playgoer
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The 21st edition of Aurora Theatre’s "Christmas Canteen" borrows elements from previous productions (Brandon O’Dell’s shameless sponsor plugs; the armed services tribute; Ann-Carol Pence singing "Silent Night"), but ups the ante to provide a truly spectacular holiday entertainment. And spectacular it is, with aerial acrobatics, glitter from the flies, and a collection of world-class talent.

Julie Allardice-Ray’s set design screams 1960’s style, with rhomboids in teal and mustard brown on frosted plexiglass sliding screens. Stylized Christmas trees in various wintry blue-green shades back the upstage four-piece band. The screens and a couple of stair units move back and forth across the stage to set up various scenes.

Alan Yeong’s costumes are as spectacular as the set, but far more varied. Mary Parker’s lighting design projects snowflakes on the set at the start, then explodes in variety and intensity. Daniel Pope’s sound design keeps things easily audible and balances and blends the band and voices seamlessly.

Jen MacQueen does triple duty in the show as co-director (with Anthony P. Rodriguez), choreographer, and cast member. She does fine work throughout, culminating in her gymnastic ring routine in the finale. Her choreography fits the talents of the cast like a terpsichorean glove.

And, wow!, is the cast talented. Cecil Washington, Jr. gives the best rendition of "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning" that I’ve ever experienced. Lyndsay Ricketson Brown impresses in every song and also in her aerial work. Christian Magby exudes charisma, with a twinkle in his eye and great dancing and singing skills. Apprentice company members Cody Russell and Candice McLellan fill their smaller roles with assurance and charm.

Our host is Brandon O’Dell, who also wrote the show, which includes special lyrics to a number of well-known songs, most notably a take-off on the opening number from "Hamilton." (One section of the show last year was a reprise of numbers from shows Aurora has done in the past; his year, one section is numbers from shows Aurora has NOT done.) As the writer, he has found the balance of giving himself just enough goofy moments to amuse without detracting from the forward momentum of the musical numbers.

Interacting with Brandon is Diany Rodriguez, one of the finest singers and actresses to grace Aurora’s stage. Her reactions to Brandon’s shtick are totally genuine, yet pointed to get audience reaction. It’s a fine line that few actors can navigate successfully. She can, and she’s magnificent.

Ann-Carol Pence’s musical direction is superb, as always, and her band (the cut-up percussionist Mark Biering, the long-haired guitarist Jim Stallings, and the cheery bassist Greg Armijo) are given more of a due than usual, making a calculatedly late entrance in act two, which starts with a gloriously melodic (and funny) a capella rendition of "12 Days of Christmas."

Is there anything to dislike in the show? Let’s think... Oh. Stray pieces of glitter float down occasionally, especially when the screens are moved, and that can be distracting. That’s about it. Aurora’s "Christmas Canteen" just keeps getting better and better. The professionalism of this edition stupefies and entertains and amazes. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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