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Smash hit holiday spectacular

December 23, 2014
Sidney B. Simon , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Without hesitation and any reservations, I urge you to get to the BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater to see the best Christmas revue you will have seen yet. It is a skyrocketing, jubilant, rollicking, frolicking, yet often poignant and tender production guaranteed to please your whole family. I bet it becomes one of the real high points of this holiday season.

Well, why? That's easy.

It features seven of the most gifted performers at the top of their game. Three of them are those famous "Divas" you may have been lucky enough to see earlier this season. They are back as bold, as raucous and delightfully belting out some of the best holiday songs and still softly touching our heartstrings with some of the sweetest moments of the evening. They are Annie Feres, Elizabeth Urbanczyk and Danielle Barnes. Kudos to all three of you.

But they are joined by three other gifted performers you will recognize and welcome if you have been a regular at this theater in past seasons. You will surely remember Victor Legarreta, who was very active in Sanibel theater for years; Stephen Mooney reminds us he starred in "The 12th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee," and we get back Jennifer Andres, who made "Romance, Romance" the hit it was. There is a seventh talented star, a newcomer, Sheridan Wright, who is a lithe sprite lighting up the stage and reminding me of Leslie Caron.

Now the most amazing thing of the evening to me was the total absence of cliches, of worn-out songs that we've heard and seen performed too many times. Brace yourself for no "White Christmas."

Instead, you're taken into new musical places, stretched to laugh and to hold dear memories even in the absence of "Rudolph" and touched in new ways that truly capture the kindness, the mellowness, the friendship, the family union and spirituality of what these holidays are really all about. You won't be disappointed. A few chestnuts get roasted, for old time's sake.

Now, who really deserves the accolades for this show? It's Bobby Logue, the artistic director for the BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater. Plain and simple, in his role as the director of this show, what he had to do to collaborate in picking the brilliant choices of the songs and the dances, is remarkable.

Furthermore, his decisions about the extraordinary costumes were right up to Broadway standards. They are so outstanding it could be reason enough to bring some of the adolescent females you know to come see live theater and to enthrall them with all the fashion statements made in this show.

I also can see Logue's unique and essential capacity to build an ensemble out of these seven talented individuals. Not only all of that, I just know he had to polish, at least a majority of them, in their dazzling tapdancing, a skill Bobby Logue has in abundance. Hats off to our own Bobby Logue for a job really well done.

This is a show for the whole family. My seat in this theater, where the audience sits on three sides, allows me to watch faces in the audience, and all through the show no one, not one person, fell asleep. Little kids quit fussing, teenagers didn't fish for their cell phones, grandmas were relaxed and grandpas, I sensed, were already planning to bring more of the family and (he'd) come to see it all over again with them.

It truly is absolutely a marvelous "Christmas Celebration." I urge you to go, but I more urge you to get your tickets fast. This will be a sellout. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. for the last show on Dec. 31. Call the boxoffice at 472-6862. Hurry. Or get online at BIGARTS.org

Stage right:

I'm sad that my newspaper comes out Dec. 31 and most of you will miss this review. But maybe it will serve to remind you of the exciting theater we have on our island. The next show at the BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater opens Jan. 6. It is called "Freud's Last Session," a story about an imagined meeting between Sigmund Freud and the young scholars and author, C.S. Lewis. The play has achieved rave reviews wherever it has been done.

I'll see you there.

 
 

 

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