I can out-Scrooge just about anyone with bah humbug cynicism as THAT end-of-year season, replete with commercial hype, gluttony and conspicuous consumption, draws near. But today I stepped through a portal ringed with holly sprigs, mistletoe and pine bough I haven’t walked through in a long, long time. I’ve been resting on the sofa, listening to an advance copy of Holidazzle Act II by DFW Actors Give Back, asked to review it. I find myself utterly charmed right out of my usual jaded, pre-Christmas blues. It’s a real winner, start to finish, a love song from regional actors to the community. Polished production values and harmonies abound. It’s fun and classic and hip and bluesy and traditional and jazzy and naughty and introspective and full of wonder and wacky and reverent and irreverent…with a sexy Santa voice, too!
Favorites? Really? No way! I’ll have to listen to it again, over and over, twist my arm. But here’s some advance comments to put you “in the know” and whet your appetite, prior to the big CD Release Party on Monday night November 7 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater on Turtle Creek Blvd. at 7pm….
This CD is the second the non-profit DFWActors Give Back’s Bob Hess and K. Doug Miller have produced; Act I appeared in 2009. All proceeds from CD sales will go to the Dallas children’s charity Jonathan’s Place. Jonathan’s Place provides residential care and specialized services to North Texas’ abused and neglected children with an emergency shelter, a foster/adoption program and a residential therapeutic program. With choruses of over 50 adult and youth artists each as back up, some of the region’s leading professional musical theatre singers, musicians, arrangers and directors shared their talents pro bono in creating the fifteen songs on the CD. Celebrated, respected artists featured include Denise Lee, Julie Johnson, Liz Mikel, David Coffee, B.J. Cleveland, Sally Soldo, Sonny Franks and Wendy Welch. Some guest artists will perform their selections live at the November 7 CD Release Party.
A sample description?
Track #1 introduces the CD with high energy, a feel good, toe-tappin’, finger-snappin’ Gaye/Gordy/Hassan tune “That’s What Christmas Means to Me” performed with charm, verve and classy rhythm by Denise Lee, Jeff Kinman, Susan Mills and Darius-Anthony Robinson. Immediately after, Cara Statham Serber croons the hopelessly romantic, iconic ballad “Merry Christmas, Darling” with luscious longing, backed by Bob Hess, Jennifer Pasion, Max Swarner, and Lucia A. Welch. Wacky and wonderful follows close behind with a sidesplitting rendition of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, featuring the comic brilliance and unique voicing of Jim Johnson, K. Doug Miller, Gregory Lush, B.J.Cleveland and David Coffee. Next “The Prayer” soars to reverent, classical heights and angelic harmonies thanks to the vocal talents of Noelle Stanley, Wendy Welch, Connie Kegg, Bradley Campbell, Alexander Ross and Keith J. Warren. And then comes Irving Berlin’s “Snow” from the film White Christmas, a full-on Broadway-style production number full of tingling wonder and catch-the-breath delight. Highlighting Randy Pearlman’s warm solo vocals, the featured singers include Bob Hess, Shane Peterman, Stephanie Riggs and Sally Soldo, backed by a chorus of ten strong voices. And that’s just a few details about the first five songs! No, I’m not going to spoil all your fun. Trust me, it’s a gift that will keep on giving.
Teasers? Oh, okay! The rest include: a sultry, tinsel-tantalized “This Christmas” by Liz Mikel and Markus Lloyd; an astounding a cappella trio version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”; Julie Johnson’s blazing, upbeat interpretation of “Christmas Eve”; “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/ We Three Kings” as a bluegrass medley with Peggy Honea on upright bass; an ethereal “Silent Night” with full chorus and perfectly-blended, reverential quartet; Pat Ballard’s frothy, Andrews Sisters-styled “Mister Santa” in four part magic with inspiration from A Single Girl’s dreamy Santa; the children’s chorus backing a stunning Patty Breckinridge and Ashley Puckett Gonzales duet on “Where Are You Christmas”; a hilarious, tongue-in–rosy-cheek adaptation of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, with lyrics tailored to the theatrical community; a giddy “Sleigh Ride” celebration where you can almost feel the wind and snow on your face; and an incredible finale by Carly Simon summing things up, a love song from the artists to the entire community….
“You don’t have to be an angel,
Or a Wise Man on bended knee.
You don’t have to be a child to love the mystery.
The heart of this Christmas is you and me.”
Non-denominational, family rated fare, equally suited to hedonistic holiday bashes, an intimate first Christmas shared or as sweet background when gifts unwrap under the family tree.
Order yours now: www.dfwactorsgiveback.org
or at the CD Release Party November 7, 2011
For more information about Jonathan’s Place visit:
Other places to purchase the Holidazzle II CD:
Circle Theatre, Flower Mound Performing Arts Theatre, Kitchen Dog Theatre, OnStage in Bedford, Stage West, Theatre Arlington, Theatre Three and WaterTower Theatre
And on opening night of their holiday shows at …
Random shots from the recording sessions!