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Christmas Canteen 2015

a Musical Revue
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Brandon O’Dell

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4815

SHOWING : November 19, 2015 - December 20, 2015

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Gwinnett’s longest running theatrical holiday tradition, "Christmas Canteen," returns for its 20th season. This nostalgic musical revue is a winter wonderland that just keeps getting better. Combined with the awe-inspiring Festival of Trees, we guarantee to give you a Christmas you’ll never forget!


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Anthony Rodriguez
Cast Skyler Brown
Cast T’Arica Crawford
Cast Jen MacQueen
Cast Brandon Odell
Cast Lyndsay Ricketson
Cast Benjamin Sims
Cast Travis Smith
Cast Brian Walker
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Just About Ideal
by playgoer
Thursday, December 10, 2015
4.5
The twentieth annual rendition of "Christmas Canteen" at Aurora Theatre is just about the ideal version. The hokeyness quotient is not overpowering, as it has been in some past years, and the cast is nicely balanced. Jen MacQueen’s choreography is excellent and allows for a couple of rousing tap numbers. The set, designed by Julie Allardice Ray, is a lovely evocation of wintertime, with tree silhouettes and elegant arches, all in subtle silver (actually, white-splashed gray) and gold. Mary Parker’s lighting design is season-appropriate, marred only by snowflake pre-show gobos that bleed over from the tree silhouettes onto the walls of the theatre. Daniel Pope’s projections are straightforward, but effective, and Alan Yeong’s costumes and Ryan Bradburn’s props amaze with their workmanship, variety, and beauty.

The performances are what really sell the production, though. Ann-Carol Pence’s musical direction and band are perfection, as always, although her solo this year is not as impressive as others have been. The three interns involved in the production (Skyler Brown, T’Arica Crawford, and Benjamin Sims) don’t have quite the stage presence of the rest of the cast in their ensemble moments, but all shine in solo spots. As for the main cast, they’re all excellent in their own ways. Diany Rodriguez’s incandescent smile and powerful voice spark the proceedings with non-stop energy. Jen MacQueen’s physicality and winning personality bring a smile to one’s face. Lyndsay Ricketson’s leading lady looks and character actress skills combine with her sweet singing voice to leave an indelible impression. Brian Walker nails his numbers and bits with unstoppable brio. Travis Smith anchors things with his solid good looks and strong baritone voice, then surprises with tap and Elvis impersonation skills. Brandon O’Dell, while sounding strained in his solo rendition of "I’ll Be Home for Christmas," blends nicely in choral numbers and makes for a winningly comic master of ceremonies.

"Christmas Canteen" recycles segments from previous years as a matter of course. This year, the recycled segments include selections from "hit" non-holiday musicals the Aurora Theatre has produced over the last several years. That adds a familiar note without seeming at all stale. The best recycled bits work as well as they have in the past, sometimes with little tweaks and twists that freshen them up a tad. The special talents of the cast are played up, with a down home section allowing them all to play instruments of one kind or another, often passing them from person to person. The excitement of seeing these individuals expose the layers of their talents builds interest throughout. This just might be the best "Christmas Canteen" yet.
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