Nostalgia Tied with a Bow
Reviewed by Vicki Stokes
Disclosure: I willingly admit that all the elements I love are present in this show: cheery Christmas carols, show tunes, glitter, gowns and live music, but I will do my best to be unbiased.
Back Home for the Holidays is an energizing trip down memory lane with David Rogers, a theatrical powerhouse. This is much more than a Christmas show. It marks a comeback for Drayton Entertainment, its first opening night at Hamilton Family Theatre in many moons, a joyous return to the stage for its participants, and at long last, a full-capacity, appreciative audience. It features many of Rogers’ best moments from his past starring roles.
Glittering silver trees fill the stage, and an enormous chandelier towers above, reminiscent of The Phantom of the Opera. Jayme Armstrong and Alyssa Curto, adding a splash of red and green with their first of many beautiful gowns, join Rogers in the upbeat Christmas classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. This is followed by a medley of songs featuring sleighs, bells and snow. After a Broadway show tune, Rogers reminisces about his first public performance, and this is where the nostalgia really begins. Following a fun Broadway medley, Jayme Armstrong wistfully relives her performance in Mary Poppins, singing “Feed the Birds”.
Several changes of pace always keep the show moving along and interesting. Rogers occasionally strays from his leading man composure, becoming a little boy in his jammies, transforming into a green Christmas tree with a message. He easily switches gears and becomes Joseph in his coat of many colours and Les Misérables’ Jean Valjean. He proves he still has that wow factor so many want but so few have. Joining in for a bit of fun is Anthony Bastianon, from behind the piano, also clearly nostalgic about having performed with Rogers in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Jayme Armstrong’s “The Sound of Music” is beautiful and inspiring. Alyssa Curto, who is new to Drayton but has performed with Rogers in Dracula – A Chamber Musical, gives a stunning rendition of “Ave Maria”. She is dressed in an equally stunning white gown.
The final medley commences with “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and when they finish, the audience cannot get enough. Following a standing ovation, the show ends on “divine” from “O Holy Night” leading to a second standing ovation. Immediately I hear “Wonderful!” from three nearby audience members.
Yes, I do love this type of show, but witnessing the audience loving it too gives me a clear conscience in recommending Back Home for the Holidays.
Back Home for the Holidays continues at Hamilton Family Theatre, Cambridge until December 26. For tickets, go to www.draytonentertainment.com or call the box office at 519-621-8000, toll-free at 1-855-372-9866.
Photo: Alyssa Curto, David Rogers, Jayme Armstrong in Back Home for the Holidays.
Back Home for the Holidays
Musical Direction by Anthony Bastianon
Vocal Arrangements by Mark Payne
Performed by David Rogers, featuring Jayme Armstrong and Alyssa Curto
Drayton Entertainment Production
Hamilton Family Theatre, Cambridge
December 1 to December 26, 2021
Reviewed by Vicki Stokes