Friday, November 24, 2017

Broadway Theater Review: Home for the Holidays

Photo: Carol Rosegg

Home for the Holidays
Creative and Music Direction by Jonathan Tessero
August Wilson Theatre
Through Dec. 30

By Lauren Yarger
The winners of TV's reality shows "American Idol," "The Voice," and "America's Got Talent" unite for Broadway's only Christmas-themed show this year, Home for the Holidays, at the August Wilson Theatre.

Candice Glover, winner of “American Idol” Season 12; Josh Kaufman, winner of “The Voice” Season 6; and Bianca Ryan, winner: “America’s Got Talent” Season 1, perform more than 25 songs, some which you will recognize and some which you won't. A song list does not appear in the show's Playbill, so good luck figuring out what they are.

The concert is hosted by Kaitlyn Brostowe from the"Bachelorette" TV show and also has appearances by Peter Hollen, billed as a YouTube sensation,  and his wife, Evynne. Academy-Award-nominated actor Danny Aiello also is featured. He reads a little, sings a little and appears very out of place in this hodgepodge of a production, presumably assembled by Creative and Musical Director Jonathan Tessero, who has among his entertainment credits and the Superbowl, the Essence Fest and other events (no other writing or directing credits are listed in the Playbill).I didn't care for the arrangements of some of the classic Christmas songs which leave the singers sounding out of sync with each other. Glover should have been given an :O, Holy Night" solo.

The nine-piece band is good, particularly the horn section of Enrique Sanchez, Luke Stafford and an uncredited woman who I spotted playing the day I saw the show.

Aiello is not alone in his discomfort. Ryan, whose talent apparently consists of singing part of words while making them sound very dramatic, if not recognizable,  kept waving her arm in a strange pattern telegraphing someone who isn't comfortable on stage.

Fashions provided by Sherri Hill, Stephen F. Nina Shoes and Noah Waxman are sparkly for the holiday theme, but in some cases, the cuts are not very flattering to the women in particular (James Brown III is the wardrobe stylist for the show). Jason Kantrowitz adds some lighting pizazz) to the mix

The standout in this production is Glover, who has a terrific voice and worshipful spirit while singing favorites like "The Little Drummer Boy." It is a treat any time we can hear the story of Christmas told on a Broadway stage and Glover's talent made it especially so. Our hopes for focused concert are disappointed, however.

This limited engagement plays at the August Wilson Theatre, 245 West 52nd St., NYC through Dec. 30. Performance times vary. Tickets are $59-$299: www.HolidaysOnBroadway.com


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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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