As I watched Talent Machine's "Santa's Frosty Follies" on Saturday night at St. John's College, I was overwhelmed by the numbers.
Forty-five young people ages 3 to 19. Two full acts bulging at the seams with 27 production numbers, many of them sporting multiple songs, each requiring its own choreography and staging.
Costume changes? Don't ask. I lost count about a third of the way through Act I.
"Follies," suffice to say, is a Christmas vaudeville show mounted on the largest possible scale.
It's bright, pizzazzy, high-kicking stuff. The mood is unremittingly secular -- more "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" than "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
Most of all, it's a lot of fun. There's color galore, the youngsters are cute and, for the most part, quite talented. Children of all ages should have a nice time.
Alice Bavis is lovely and much in command as emcee.
Matthew Kenchington, her male counterpart, doesn't match her
vocally, but he delivers his lines with commendable energy and flair.
Danny Sonntag, 15, continues to grow as singer and comedian, and Talent Machine perennial Jessica Crouse contributes a lovely solo dance in the "Christmas Dreams" segment. Her "Let There Be Peace on Earth" provides the only moment of introspection in the whole shebang. A nice touch.
I enjoyed Jill Locklear's bright, spirited Hanukkah song. She's an eighth-grader with much potential.
As always in a show from Talent Machine creator Bobbi Smith, the energy never flags. Watch the twin Christmas trees, Emily Bavis and Rachel Griffin, hop about while stylishly buttoned up in gobs of heavy arboreal paraphernalia. They never let up.
More with small children
The small children wind up stealing the show, often with sheer cuteness, but with many perky little voices thrown into the mix. I only wish more had been done with them.
With so much happening on stage for so long, something clearly had to be dumped off the end of the sleigh and, this year, that was musical preparation.
Tone production was weak in the Act I choral numbers, and harmonies were only waved at.
Some of Santa's soloists also could have used more vocal coaching. Maybe next year.
But enough with the Scrooge-like quibbling. If the opportunity to admire talented youngsters while tapping your toes strikes your fancy this season, "Santa's Frosty Follies" awaits at 7: 30 p.m. tomorrow; 2 p.m. and 7: 30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. and 6: 30 p.m. Sunday in Key Auditorium.
Pub Date: 12/18/97