HUDSON — You know, it's worth the price of the ticket to the Show Palace Dinner Theatre's A Doo Wop Christmas just to hear Josh Hayes and Patrick Marshall Jr. sing Irving Berlin's White Christmas in the style of Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters way back in 1954. Hayes starts it with an impossibly deep, controlled bass, then Marshall chimes in with a clear falsetto that would make McPhatter himself sit up and take notice. These two could carry a show all by themselves.
Still, they're just delicious icing on the cake. This 13-member cast of singers and dancers, each with a special talent, provides one wonderful song after another, melding around a light plotline that lends structure to the show without overwhelming the melodies, thanks to writer Matthew Belopavlovich's respect for his musical material.
Kudos to director Pete Clapsis for recruiting a dozen of the best Show Palace veterans, plus one little newcomer (8-year-old Rose Carpenter as Noelle) to present two hours of sparkling, sometimes funny, always heartwarming holiday spirit.
Prepare to smile at familiar tunes, then laugh until your drink comes out of your nose when Jay R. Goldberg (remember Uncle Fester in The Addams Family?) cuts a rug doing the Peppermint Twist or hamming it up as an ersatz Elvis wailing about a Buh-buh-buh-Blue Christmas.
In a show filled with high points, Colleen Campbell's clear as a bell, a cappella rendition of O Holy Night is one never to be forgotten. Ellie Pattison, as Grandma Rudolph, is sweet and touching with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, her voice sure and steady, even as it is filled with emotion. Victoria Stinnett, as Mrs. Rudolph, sings a touching My Grown-Up Christmas List. And Brianna Trier is delightful as young Eve, mourning the loss of her beloved grandpa in Miss You Most at Christmas Time.
The cornerstone of the show is the five-member boy band-like singers (Jonathan Scott Roth, Kevin Korczynski, Craig Franke, Marshall and Hayes), whose voices blend like eggnog and a fine bourbon whiskey, doing a spirited version of Chuck Berry's Run, Run Rudolph, mellowing out on the Drifters' Up on the Roof (but what's with those strange scarves?), A Doo Wop Christmas With You, and an a cappella We Need a Little Christmas. Roth's bass stays true and clear on Do You Hear What I Hear? Korczynski's high tenor/falsetto adds a doowop feel to many of the songs.
A trio of singer/dancers (Lindsay Nantz, Brittany Ambler and Campbell) brings memories of American Bandstand, white go-go boots and all, with Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and Sleigh Ride, then joins the entire cast for midnight mass with a nativity scene, a charming reminder of the season that doesn't go overboard on religiosity. Korczynski's Let There Be Peace On Earth adds an ecumenical touch, with his neutral ministerial garb reflecting almost any denomination.
This is a singer's show, with deft music direction by Matty Colonna. Uncomplicated choreography by Elizabeth Kusch adds movement, leaving the flash to costume coordinator Pat Werner, who decks out the female dancers in shimmering glitter, the male singers in shiny, doowop-style suits and colorful shirts, and the Rudolph family in traditional garb.
Todd Everest's three-part set design gives a 1960s feel, with traditional home furnishing, a cozy attic, and a corner soda shop with black and white tile bar and chrome stools with red seats recalling memories of 25-cent malts and 10-cent cherry colas. Ah, the good ol' days.
>>if you go
A Doo Wop Christmas
Matinees and evenings through Dec. 25 at Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson, FL. Dinner and show, $50.50, plus tax and tip; show only, group, and youth tickets available. Call (727) 863-7949