Starbright Christmas 2021

Christmas Begins with Starbright

Reviewed by Vicki Stokes

VPP’s Starbright Christmas is today’s equivalent of the Sear’s Christmas Wishbook for bringing on the Christmas spirit.  Now in its seventeenth year, and a staple at the VPP since 2012, this show has the magic formula of talent, music and an ideal white Christmas set.  The tree and snow-covered set with twinkling lights is the perfect showcase for the dapper suits and beautiful ball gowns.  The Davids: Rogers and Hogan, continue to impress with this holiday staple.

Left to right: Justin Bacchus, Mark Payne, Jennifer Walls, Alex Baerg, Kaleigh Gorka, Christopher Dunham, Leah Grandmont, Ben Bolt-Martin. Photo by Diane O’Dell.

There is a wonderful mix of fun, silly, inspiring and moving performances.  Every participant in this show offers something special.  The five main performers are well known at the VPP and many of the performances are medleys.  Justin Bacchus is a soulful charmer, who brings something special to “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” and “sleighs” his medley with Alex Baerg.  Alex provides some memorable moments, including accompanying himself on guitar to some silly songs that elicit mask-muffled laughter from the audience.  Christopher Dunham’s “The First Noel” showcases his rich baritone voice.  The ladies voices are lovely, together for “Let It Go” or on their own.  Jennifer Walls rivets our attention with the opening medley, leading with “Do You Hear What I Hear.”  Kaleigh Gorka’s “The Sound of Music” is incredibly strong and memorable.

At this show and the previous one (Songs We Love) there wasn’t a paper program that listed the performances but they incorporate a wide variety of beloved songs, as well as some perhaps not so familiar.  Also included is an original, the joyful Starbright Christmas song, which hopefully they will incorporate into subsequent shows.

Mark Payne is consistently dazzling on the piano and emotive with his voice.  The addition of two more musicians just makes it that much better.  Leah Grandmont (VPP’s Fiddler on the Loose 2) holds the show together during the hilariously disastrous “sym-phoney” orchestra.  Ben Bolt-Martin’s cello (but not his triangle!) adds just the right warm tones to the show.

Though the Lambton Youth Choir is unable to join the stage, it joins us virtually with a video.  Filmed outdoors, dressed for the chilly weather, the members of the choir appear to be having a great time with the change in format.  Their young voices are a splendid addition to the show.

Starbright Christmas always ends with “O Holy Night”, a most requested song and vocal reminder of the true Christmas spirit.  And though we are not able to greet the performers on the way out, they still manage to say their goodbyes and good wishes on a video screen.  David Hogan, dressed to the nines in his star-studded suit, made sure we all made it to our cars, allowing us to safely navigate the rainbow crosswalk over to the parking lot.  What a gentleman!

If you desire some Christmas spirit to inspire holiday decorating and celebrating, VPP has it in spades (or stars)!

Starbright Christmas 2021 continues at Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia until December 12. For tickets, call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 of visit

Photo: The company of Starbright Christmas 2021. Photo by Diane O’Dell

Starbright Christmas 2021

Conceived and written by David Rogers
Directed by David Hogan and David Rogers
Musical Direction and Arrangements by Mark Payne
Choreographed by David Hogan
Performed by Justin Bacchus, Alex Baerg, Ben Bolt-Martin, Christopher Dunham, Kaleigh Gorka, Leah Grandmont, Mark Payne, Jennifer Walls
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
November 23 to December 12, 2021
Reviewed by Vicki Stokes


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