Home for the Holidays, Dionysus Theatre, Review

Looks like Steve DeBruyne and Matthew Tomich have found (at least temporarily) a home for Dionysus Theatre at the Hartland High School auditorium — and its in a small beautiful space with professional amenities that theater companies envy. Its also a short 25 minute drive north of Ann Arbor (half the distance to Croswell for those who head there regularly) and they can use your support.

In a house that holds several hundred, only a handful were in attendance last night for their delightful original musical HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS — think “Bing Crosby Christmas Special” and its about all you need to know about the evening. Its a jolly Christmas-song filled entertaining two hours complete with surprise appearance by He Who Drives A Sleigh.

15 member cast and 5 piece orchestra weave an enchanting holiday spell as they tell their story interspersing on-stage and back-stage antics at a Christmas Eve holiday show. Familiar holiday tunes (some used very effectively here) abound, and there is plenty of great singing, dancing, and all-around fun. Look for a special appearance by “star” Liz Jaffe.

In a uniformly solid cast, Steve DeBruyne, Liz Jaffe, Marlene Inman-Reilly and Sarah Brown are particular standouts, but the entire cast is strong. Steve DeBruyne’s direction is fluid; Brian E. Buckner’s vocal arrangements and band are terrific; and Michelle Marzejon’s choreography fits the bill. There is nice setwork by Phil Harmer, and overall technical touches are very good — much more “ready for prime time” than another local professional theater when they launched a few seasons ago. Also look for one of those special appearances that I covet — Anne Bauman arrives on stage in Act II, sings one song, and calls it a night. My kind of featured role!

But, it appears that Livingston County doesn’t exactly know what to do with a new theater company — so there is lots of education that needs to be done in this community about theater attendance (and behavior inside the theater, which does not include talking, texting, and eating meals). This is a theater that deserves your support — and its only a short drive away from Ann Arbor, and a hop-and-a-skip from points north. Get off at 59, make your first left, and follow the signs to the new High School. But more importantly, help support this new theater company which promises great things. Their next production, the musical 9 to 5 will have better name recognition and hopefully draw from a larger base — but their current holiday offering is a family-friendly holiday treat that goes down easily. Take some time out during this last weekend of their performances and pack up your car and head to Hartland for HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

For tickets, call (517) 672-6009 or buy them online at http://www.diotheatre.com — or just buy your tickets at the door.


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