Posted on Thursday, November 19, 2009 by Pat Gaik
Christmas Gets Hometown Spin at Area Theater
There's an honest winsomeness in "We Need a Little Christmas," now playing at Conklin's Barn II Dinner Theatre. Along with the laughs and funny bits, there's a warm intimacy in this, their first-ever holiday revue.
This Conklin troupe of seven veterans knows their audience and they've crafted a show that has a rich variety of music presented in living-room coziness. The sold-out opening night crowd loved it. Some of them even got to participate; three audience members are escorted to the stage for a humorous Christmas trivia contest.
Twenty-one songs are performed and they're a blend of some well-known standards and some lesser-known holiday music. Thanks in part to the responsiveness of the onstage three-person orchestra, music director/pianist Chad Kirvan is able to maintain a brisk pace.
Director Mary Simon steals the show with her hilarious "The Twelve Daze of Christmas."
The husband and wife team of Tamra and Dan Challacombe provide a highlight with their married-sexy "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
Diann Thompson provides another highlight when she sings "Somewhere in My Memory." That's a song from the movie "Home Alone" and she performs it with a Judy Garland sort of vulnerability that's quite effective.
The entire cast performs an up-tempo medley of Christmas carols that gives these great old tunes a fun, fresh sound. Percussionist Zach Wakid adds a special flair here and throughout the show.
The quartet of men (Kirvan, Challacombe, Pat Gaik and Dave Windsor) sing a close-harmony "Auld Lang Syne" and, again, it's a fresh twist on an old standard.
Pat Gaik nails "A Place Called Home," a gorgeous song from Broadway's "A Christmas Carol." It's probably the heart of the show, too. The opening night feeling was that Barn II felt a lot like "a place called home" to kick off the holiday season.