If the hustle and bustle of the holidays has you stressed out this year, don’t despair! Theatre Raleigh has concocted a delectable Christmas confection certain to get you into the spirit of the season. Oh What a (Holy) Night! is a delightful evening of top-notch musical performances by a small yet diverse cast of talented Theatre Raleigh favorites. Directed in a nostalgic showcase style reminiscent of Bob Hope and Carol Burnett, Oh What a (Holy) Night! is a sensory-saturating lineup of holiday favorites — from “Merry Christmas Baby” to “Hannukah, Oh Hanukkah“, to a hilarious rendition of “Feliz Navidad“, and everything in-between.
Charlie Brady’s direction focuses less on storyline and more on delivering a full-spectrum holiday experience. By using vignettes and clever transitions (augmented by Jeremy Diamond’s delicious lighting and Chris Bernier’s nostalgic and dynamic set design), the cast of six takes the audience on a 90-minute sleigh ride. And oh what a cast it is!
Melvin Gray Jr. sets the tone right off the bat, breaking the Fourth Wall with a cheerful rendition of “What Christmas Means to Me.” He later delivers a dulcet-toned “Grown-Up Christmas List” that is sure to warm hearts.
Cassidy Hamilton rocks the house with “Run Run Rudolph” and leads a stunning “O Holy Night.” But it’s her “Rich, Famous and Powerful” song that really brings down the house.
Destiny Diamond dazzles her way through a saucy “Santa Baby,” and delivers an empowering role-reversal rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Gerard Williams’ buttery baritone pairs well with her, as well as with Supriya Jaya’s touching “I’ll Be Home for Christmas“/”Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” medley that tugs at all the heartstrings.
Jacob Barton rounds out the cast and leads an angelic “Silent Night,” not to mention a three-man arrangement of “Little Saint Nick” that had the audience in stitches.
Let’s not forget an MVP of a four-piece band (Kyle Maxwell-Doherty, Marc Davis, and John Simonetti), who, under the stellar music direction of Jesse Kapsha, played tirelessly throughout the well-paced and musically packed set. The choreography by Lauren Kennedy Brady and the music are irresistibly toe-tapping, and there’s even a singalong at the end of the show (although this reviewer would have preferred the house lights to come up a bit, so that one could better read the lyrics fliers helpfully provided to the audience).
If you or anyone else in your circle are feeling a bit curmudgeonly this close to Christmas, then hurry over to Theatre Raleigh for one of their remaining performances of Oh What a (Holy) Night! You’ll be brimming with Yuletide cheer in no time!
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 21st Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2019/12/theatre-raleighs-oh-what-a-holy-night-is-a-festive-way-to-get-into-the-holiday-spirit/; and Dec. 15th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW Review by Lauren Van Hemert: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-Theatre-Raleighs-OH-WHAT-A-HOLY-NIGHT-Concert-Showcases-Local-Talent-20181215. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Dec. 20th Triangle Review review by Robert O’Connell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2019/12/theatre-raleighs-oh-what-a-holy-night-is-a-breezy-christmas-concert/.)
Theatre Raleigh presents OH WHAT A (HOLY) NIGHT! at 8 p.m. Dec. 21 and 3 .m. Dec. 22 in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $35 ($32.50 for students, senior, and active-duty military personnel).
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SHOW: https://theatreraleigh.com/oh-what-a-holy-night/, https://www.facebook.com/events/1555977681221743/, and https://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/events/oh-what-holy-night-theatre-raleigh-0.
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Melanie Simmons of Cary, NC is a film and stage actress with a BA degree in Theatre from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA. She has studied acting with Sande Shurin Acting Studios in New York City and The Actor’s Workshop in Los Angeles, CA; and she now trains locally with Lynda Clark (stage), Daryl Ray Carlisle (film/commercial), and Rebekah Holland (voice). Simmons has performed at Raleigh Little Theatre in Raleigh, Forest Moon Theater in Wake Forest, Stageworks Theatre in Holly Springs, and many others. She is represented by Talent One Agency in Raleigh. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.