It’s the time of year when holiday-themed shows are popping up all over town. With Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular already underway, the newest addition to the traditional Christmas show lineup, Home For the Holidays, looks to become a new seasonal favorite.
The star-studded cast which includes host Kaitlyn Bristowe and performers Candice Glover, Peter Hollens, Evynne Hollens, Josh Kaufman, Bianca Ryan – and a special appearance by Danny Aiello — offers Christmas spirit in ample supply.
The entire ensemble comes to Broadway America’s Got Talent, The Voice, or American Idol winners, or are simply YouTube stars. Their voices and talent show it. Glover’s soulful pipes soar to the highest rafters and almost bring the house down with renditions of “Joy to the World,” “Where Are You Christmas,” and “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” Kaufman displays showmanship with upbeat performances of Stevie Wonder’s “That’s What Christmas Means to Me” and “The Little Drummer Boy.” With a voice that fluctuates amazingly between breathy and a soulful powerhouse, Bianca Ryan does Mariah Carey proud with her own version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Peter Hollens takes the spotlight and received thunderous applause for his original song from his Christmas album.
Weaving in and out of these dynamic performances are Bristowe and Aiello telling their own stories of Christmases past. Aiello is especially moving as he tells of growing up in New York City, living in a basement, and wondering whether his family would be able to celebrate Christmas. Or passing by Radio City Music Hall while Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman were at the premiere of their new movie The Bells of St. Mary’s. Area church bells rang in unison on that snowy a New York December day.
The design is appropriately magical, if sometimes Vegas, with beautiful lighting illuminating a simple, festive set. The number of dress changes for the cast is a feat in its own right. And these clothes didn’t look simple to change!
It was heartening to see so many families attending. The younger audience was particularly appreciative.
Home For the Holidays is a nice retreat encompassing a mix of classic Christmas songs, as well as some new ones, all of which are sung and performed beautifully by the entire cast. Here’s hoping that this show will find its niche among holiday entertainment offerings, and becomes one of the traditions we can look forward to seeing in the coming years.
Home For The Holidays in a limited engagement at the August Wilson Theatre, 245 West 52nd Street, through December 30, 2017. Creative and musical design by Jonathan Tessero; produced and general management by Jeffrey Chrzczon; music coordination by John Miller; lighting design by Jason Kantowitz; wardrobe styling by James Brown III; sound design by Bruce Landon Yauger; fashions provided by Sherri Hill, Stephen F., Nina Shoes, and Noah Waxman; production management by Juniper Street Productions. Cast: Kaitlyn Bristowe, Danny Aiello, Candice Glover, Peter Hollens, Evynne Hollens, Josh Kaufman, and Bianca Ryan.
Cover: (l. to r.) Josh Kaufman, Bianca Ryan and Candice Glover in ‘Home For The Holidays;’ photo: Carol Rosegg.
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