‘The Holiday Gem’ celebrates Christmas spirit

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BY ANGELA HATCHER: There’s nothing quite like a chorus line-up of jovial Santas leaping out of a “Santa-tizer” to get your Christmas spirit fired up, and One More Productions’ latest rendition and the sixth of its celebrated The Holiday Gem reviews proves, once again, to be the one of the most spectacular G-ratedand jovial variety shows imaginable.

BY ANGELA HATCHER: There’s nothing quite like a chorus line-up of jovial Santas leaping out of a “Santa-tizer” to get your Christmas spirit fired up, and One More Productions’ latest rendition and the sixth of its celebrated The Holiday Gem reviews proves, once again, to be the one of the most spectacular G-ratedand jovial variety shows imaginable.

With concept by Nicole Cassesso and Damien Lorton, and book by Cassesso and Chris Harper, OMP co-founders Lorton and Cassesso have put together another of their original family friendly holiday productions, and this latest installment is jam-packed with enough holiday music, laughter, singing, dancing, and storytelling to fill your Christmas stockings with all the heartfelt joy of the season.

Santa’s elves are all working overtime while Ernie the Elf (Johnnie Gillies) and his sweet side-kick, Emma (Megan Michell), the Holiday Cheer Technicians, have the tough assignment of keeping holiday cheer alive.

A special snow globe transports them all to a magical fantasyland, and here begins their journey of finding the joy in Christmas as well as rescuing the kidnapped Santa.

The bedazzled evil Evelyn (Danny Diaz) and his much too adorable accomplice, Minion (Shayna Gayer), may know something… And, while the elves’ quandary is a major thread throughout the show, the talented troupe dance and sing in perfect harmony to such favorites as “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” featuring Ernie, Emma and Company, “The Christmas Song” starring Brandon Taylor Jones, Zack Martinez, and Peter Crisafulli, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Sophia Scarsi, Nicole Cassesso, and Erika Baldwin.

Tad Fujioka’s “Dear Mr. Santa” with the showgirls is one of the most hilarious numbers in the show, while Mrs. Claus’ (Adriana Sanchez) “My Grown Up Christmas List” is one of the most heartfelt. The cast, decked out in stunning 1900s costumes, begins Act II singing traditional carols. The lights go up as the audience is then invited to sing-along to such favorites as “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night.”

A very special guest, the lovely and talented Bobbie Stovall, entertains the audience with a piano medley of recognizable holiday songs such as “Vince Guaraldi’s “Snoopy Christmas Song” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

We find ourselves back at the North Pole as the evening draws to a close, and Santa (Damien Lorton) and Company’s “Be a Santa” is a song and tap dancing dazzler!

While the company deserves full recognition, some particular standouts include Danny Diaz as Evelyn, Adriana Sanchez as Mrs. Claus, Shayna Gayer as Minion, Megan Michell as Emma, Johnnie Gillies as Ernie, Damien Lorton as Santa, Erika Baldwin, Sophia Scarsi, Brandon Taylor Jones, Tad Fujioka, and Zack Martinez, ensemble.

Choreography by Shauna Bradford, Heather Holt-Smith and Katie Marshall was varied and well-executed. Live music was provided by Toni Helms on piano, Nic Gonzalez on bass, Jeff Segal on drums, Kevin Homma on woodwinds and Jonathan Suywulka on trumpet.

The evening was not without its flaws, however, as one side of Wally Huntoon’s gorgeous storybook set design collapsed on stage left, and time was taken to prop the snow-capped village set back in place.

Not a moment was wasted, and the troupe carried on with grace and class. Somewhere along the way, a line or two was dropped, but somehow, these minor incidentals gave the show a little more “home baked” feeling which, in turn, and oddly, made the holiday season feel just a little closer to the heart – a sort of reminder that perfection does not have to be perfect to be wonderful, and that this production is a true sparkler among the holiday gems.

 

The Holiday Gem

The Gem Theatre

12852 Main St., Garden Grove,

Box office: 714-741-9550

 www.onemoreproductions.com

Runs through Dec. 17

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