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Center Stage: Two holiday hits headlining at the Broadway Palm

By Staff | Dec 10, 2019

Marsha Wagner

Broadway Palm swings into the holiday season with not one but two offerings, celebrating that “special time of year.” At the Off Broadway Palm, Resident Director Paul Bernier has assembled a dazzling cast of performers, most of whom are Broadway Palm favorites presenting “A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play,” but don’t be fooled by the title, this version of A Christmas Carol has music, as well as singing and danced staging. This musically staged radio show takes place in the 1940s, where (according to the notes) all the action is continuous and is set in the WOBP Radio Studio.

All I can tell you are the eight performers (Rob Summers, Ken Quiriconi, Rachael Endrizzi, Dianne Fussaro, Frank Hughes, Dena Galyean, Kelly Legarreta with Jesse Yandle at the piano) are quite simply terrific; proving that even an old, well told story can be fun and entertaining when given a new twist by a creative director and performed by a gifted cast. Thanks, one and all for another neat holiday memory to keep.

Meanwhile, on the Main Stage of the Broadway Palm we have a brand-new version of “Sounds of Christmas,” written, choreographed and directed by the ever so talented Amy Marie McCleary. McCleary swings into this holiday offering of singing, dancing and storytelling using a cornucopia of Christmas songs and music, from the classics to country western, from rock to Rockabilly, knowing exactly the right formula of what goes into making a terrific holiday punch that will thrill the audiences from 9 to 90; putting them into a happy holiday state of mind. The formula is simple: take a large dose of Christmas music classics, mix with high spirited dancing, stir with enough holiday jokes and “bits” to get us giggling, spice with razzle, dazzle costumes, add a couple of cute, talented kids, be sure to include a cast of wonderful performers who can sing, dance, tell jokes and act. Wrap the whole mixture with glittery costumes, eye popping scenery; mix gently together with and outstanding orchestra under the direction of Loren Strickland and you’ve got the ideal holiday theater punch to thrill the holiday audiences and families that attend this exciting show; now playing through December.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few outstanding performers in the terrific cast. First there is the (Big Guy in the Red Suit) Santa Claus – Victor Lagaretta. Here’s Lagaretta – who really does have eyes that twinkle. And when he laughs has a belly, that shakes like a bowl full of jelly. But Largaretta does his take on Santa, with a great singing voice, telling jokes, like a standup comic; and when he dances, he really rocks! Let’s not leave out Mrs. Claus – Shannon Connolly, who can quite hold her own in the singing and dancing department.

There is such a large and wonderful cast there isn’t space enough to list and acknowledge everyone; but I must mention the two youngsters who performed the night I saw the show. Sarah Salerno as Sam sang her solo in a center stage spotlight like a pro and stopped the show; as did her sister, Zoe McCarthy, playing the part of Olivia. Katherine Walker Hill as Mom and Troy Bruchwalski as Dad were equally as effective in the roles. Danielle Poznanovic made an auspicious Broadway Palm debut as Candy Cane, a singing, dancing bundle of energy playing the love interest of a flustered Santa Elf named Pointdexter – Joel Libed, who gave a whole new meaning to portraying a “rattled” elf.

Another member of the cast that grabbed our attention was Will Callahan as Chestnut the elf. Chestnut was a rootin,’ tootin’ boot scootin’ dancin’ elf that had us toe tapping our way to intermission. After intermission we got to hear Christmas tunes in all manner of musical styles from rock to Rockabilly in all manner of settings and costumes brought to us by that creative team of Dominic Lau – set design and Jim Conti – costumes. This whole sparkling production of “Sounds Of Christmas” got impressive backing from an awesome ensemble of singers and dancers all bright and shining as Christmas ornament.

McCleary once again demonstrates her innate talent at making it possible to get her entire cast shine, while looking totally comfortable, performing musical numbers from the 40s through the 90s.

So, when all is said and done the creative team, the ensemble cast of performers, as well as the hard-working staff at the Broadway Palm, have gone all out and produced a fun and fabulous holiday show!

So, now take my advice! Phone the box office ASAP at 239-278-4422 and make those reservations before the show closes.

Remember when you phone to tell ’em Marsha sent you. And Merry Christmas to all, and – ya’ll have a good night!