A pleasing alternative for holidays

Spirited variety show has songs, skits, jokes

Arundel Live

Review

December 04, 2003|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

This holiday season Chesapeake Music Hall owner and general manager Sherry Kay Anderson has launched Yuletide Cheers, an original holiday variety show to alternate with the traditional musical version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Filled with songs, jokes and skits, Yuletide Cheers opened during the weekend and will be presented again Dec. 12-14, Dec. 17 (a matinee), and Dec. 26 and 27.

Those wishing to see A Christmas Carol can choose Chesapeake Music Hall's version on alternate weekends or other musical and dramatic versions by Pasadena Theatre Company at Anne Arundel Community College's Humanities Recital Hall, by Colonial Players and by Musical Artists at Chesapeake Arts Center.

On opening night, I found Yuletide Cheers a pleasant alternative to the ubiquitous Carol. The 12-member cast projects high energy and good cheer to kindle holiday spirits, delivering about 30 holiday songs, including familiar carols such as "Silent Night," standards such as "White Christmas" and bouncy tunes such as "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree."

Although not on musical par with the Annapolis Chorale's annual Christmas Pops concert, this show is an entertainment package brimming with pleasing choral efforts and solo singing, nifty dancing, humorous skits, fun singalongs and a few heartwarming moments.

Anderson has created imaginative segments, including one featuring window dressers Jason Fulmer and H. Alan Hoffman hilariously arranging Santa and a quartet of wonderfully stiff live mannequins in a series of often fleeting and toppling poses.

Even more innovative is a number showcasing a chorus of singing and dancing penguins. With beaks and bright yellow flippers becoming great webbed dancing feet, these birds create a riotous comic routine.

Outstanding performers include Hoffman, who delivers first-rate singing, impressive dance moves and sharp comic timing; and Amber Wright, whose energy, dance skills, singing and charm light up the stage.

Casting the warmest glow are the gifted singing actors Jason Fulmer and his wife, Tere. In "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" she transforms herself into a brash child for a funny competitive duet with Stephanie Lynn Williams. Jason Fulmer delivers such a warm "Christmas Song" that I could almost smell those chestnuts roasting.

Together, the Fulmers create a memorable peak in their evocation of the World War II era with her longing "Merry Christmas Darling" followed by his singing, in uniform, a moving "I'll Be Home for Christmas" that recalls those long-ago soldiers and today's military personnel far from home.

Throughout the evening, action moves briskly, interspersed with holiday jokes so awful I was almost embarrassed to laugh.

Sherry Kay Anderson deserves high marks for adding cheer to this holiday season.

Information: 800-406-0306.

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