A Christmas to Remember

Directed by David Rogers
Musical direction by Mark Camilleri
Performed by Sandra, Barbara and Ann Mantini
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
December 7 to 17, 2005
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

In the Spirit of Christmas

Sandra, Barbara and Ann Mantini want to take their audiences down memory lane for the holiday season. The three sisters, originally from Niagara-on-the-Lake, have been singing together for more than 20 years. Despite the fact that they are sisters, each one has a unique voice, and they are able to blend together in beautiful harmony.

Their show Moments to Remember has been very popular throughout the area. In 2004 it sold out at Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend. Based in its popularity, they have produced A Christmas to Remember.

The sisters sing beautifully, and also take time to tell stories and jokes between the numbers. They seem to be enjoying themselves, particularly in The Twelve Days of Christmas, where Ann swims gracefully like the swans, and then turns it all into the chicken dance.

Barbara pulls a reluctant “volunteer” out of the audience, and then sings a sultry version of Santa Baby to him. On opening night, Tom from Sarnia was blushing as red as the Santa hat she made him wear.

The trio has fun singing the Chipmunks’ Christmas song. Their impersonations of Simon, Theodore and Alvin are spot on.

The hilarity continues in the second act with Grandma’s Killer Fruitcake. In between the laughs, there are many traditional Christmas songs such as White Christmas, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and Silent Night. Also included are international favourites such as Feliz Navidad and Christmas in Killarney.

Director David Rogers has used each sister’s voice to the greatest advantage, alternating trios with solos. Musical Director Mark Camilleri plays piano, and leads three others in an excellent back-up band.

VPP continues to have difficulties with lighting. On opening night, the follow-spot wasn’t always following; in fact, on occasion the Mantinis had to backtrack to find the spotlight. Frequently the lighting was too strong, creating harsh shadows under their eyes and on their necks.

The show finishes on a sombre note – the Mantinis sing a heartfelt number in Italian. While it is very beautiful, it is also very slow and ends the concert on a serious tone. This song would have been much better included in their section called ‘Christmas Time All Over The World.’ Then they could have concluded on familiar high note, sending the audience singing into the parking lot.

Nevertheless, these lovely renditions of favourite Christmas tunes would make even the worst Scrooge smile. Music is one of the many joys of Christmas, and an evening with the Mantinis is probably the best way to enjoy it.

A Christmas To Remember continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until December 17. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.


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