By Daniel Skora
Because audiences so love a great holiday show and because ticket sales were brisk two years ago when The Dio first presented their original musical “Home for the Holidays” (book by Steve DeBruyne and Matt Tomich), they’re presenting it again for those who might have missed it before or those who would like to see it again. The show is an entertaining assemblage of song, dance, and comedy built around a storyline that deals with a performer having a difficult time going on stage because she’s experiencing her first Christmas away from her husband who’s serving in the military.
Portia Armstrong (Molly Cunningham) is the star of a holiday musical revue. Because her husband Eric (Matthew Robert Pecek) is away serving his country, Portia is so distraught that she’s refusing to play her part in the show. And that might just be the break that Belinda Doyle (Elizabeth Jaffe in a screamingly funny performance that steals the show whenever she’s on), who has always wanted to be the star of the show, has been waiting for. But Christopher Lawrence (Steve DeBruyne), who’s the male lead opposite Portia, wants no part of having the rather untalented Belinda as his co-star. Perhaps Nick (Jim Moll), who’s managing the Christmas revue along his wife and assistant Mrs. C (Anne Bauman), each of whom bear a remarkable resemblance to what you’d expect Santa and Mrs. Claus to look like when it’s not Christmas Eve, might be able to solve the problem with a little Christmas magic.
“Home for the Holidays” is a holiday treat filled with some two dozen Christmas songs, most familiar (“I’ll Be Home For Christmas,”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Santa Baby”, and “What Are You Doing New Years Eve”) and some perhaps that don’t get as much radio play as they deserve, but still part of our American Christmas tradition (“Cool Yule”, “It Feels Like Christmas”, and “Hard Candy Christmas”). Jared Schneider puts his considerable comedic skills to work as Jimmy, a nervous performer with a twitchy leg, joining the Franklin Sisters (Sarah Brown, Natalie Rose Sevick, and Angela Dill) for a lively version of “One More Sleep ‘Till Christmas”, from the 1992 movie “A Muppet Christmas Carol”.
Others in the ensemble, all first timers to both the show and the Dio stage, include Derek Ridge, Alexis Benson, and Brittany Chapa, who also plays Christopher’s mother in a flashback scene. Alternating in the role of Young Christopher are Gavin Burwell and Adam DeGregorio.
In addition to being in the show, Steve DeBruyne also directs. Musical direction is by Brian Rose (piano), joined by Nate Zuellig on drums and Leer Sobie on bass. The energy-filled dance movments are by choreographer Michelle Marzejon. Matt Tomich designed the two-level set, as well as being responsible for lighting and sound, while the costumes (of which there are trunkfulls) are by Norma Polk. Props, which include a magical snow globe (because sometimes even Santa needs help), are courtesy of Eileen Obradovich.
“Home for the Holidays” is the kind of show guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit or to affirm it if you’ve already gotten it. It’s colorful, sparkly, joyous, heartwarming, funny, touching, chock full of talented and enthused cast members, and above all, terrifically entertaining.
The dining part of The Dio features another one of Chef Jarod’s festive buffets. Dinner includes roasted turkey breast, sliced ham and pineapples, homemade stuffing, smashed potatoes, green beans, garden salad, and homemade bread sticks. Pumpkin pie for dessert is served during the show’s intermission.
“Home for the Holidays” runs through December 31st. For tickets and information (some shows nearly sold out) call 1.517.672.6009 or go online to www.diotheatre.com. The Dio – Dining and Entertainment is located at 177 E. Main Street in downtown Pinckney.