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Holiday cheer-filled “Home for the Holidays” – Dio (review) November 26, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in musical theater, Musicals.
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The Dio Theatre has a holiday-cheer filled reprise of its own “Home For the Holidays” in store for this season. It looks and sound terrific and everything zips along fast and efficiently. Only a Scrooge wouldn’t have fun at this Christmas delight. 

During a Christmas Eve performance, diva Portia (Molly Cunningham) refuses to go on stage when she finds husband Eric (Matthew Pecek) won’t be home from the Army for the Holidays. Forget the story, its just an excuse for some lovely holiday pop standards, Cunningham sounds remarkable on “Where Are You Christmas” and Pecek soars on “I’ll be Home for Christmas”.  The show resembles one of those old 60’s or 70’s tv-scripted holiday specials with just enough plot to lead to laughs, while firmly focusing on the holiday cheer and music.

The ensemble cast this year is tight, sings and moves well, and has fun making their way through 23 Christmas songs. In addition to those already mentioned, they include Jim Moll, Anne Bauman, Steve DeBruyne, Sarah Brown, Natalie Rose Sevick, Angela Dill, Elizabeth Jaffe, Jared Schneider, Derek Ridge, Brittany Chapa, Alexis Benson, Gavin Burwell, and Adam DeGregorio.

Director Steve DeBruyne has sped things up a bit, and designer Matthew Tomich added extra sparkle to the entire affair. Brian Rose and his orchestra sound great, and he has done excellent work with the show’s vocals. Michele Marzejon’s choreography looks great as do Norma Polk’s beautiful costumes and Eileen Obradovich’s props. The dinner is holiday-fare and deliciously prepared by Chef Jarod.

Sarah Brown, Natalie Rose Sevick, and Angela Dill do some terrific work as the “Franklin Sisters” — “Jing a Ling” and “Jingle Bells” have never sounded this terrific. Jared Schneider’s tap-infused “Here Comes Santa Claus” alone is worth the admission — but add a terrific dinner, a holiday-cheer filled show that is filled to the brim with Christmas spirit, and a little magic, and you have a delightful night at the theater again this holiday season.

Highly Recommended.

Home for the Holidays continues through December 31st. 177 E Main St, Pinckney, MI 48169 — Tickets: (517) 672-6009 or http://www.diotheatre.com

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Come “Home For the Holidays” – The Dio – review November 29, 2014

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals.
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Its Baaa-ck!……

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Home for the Holidays, the original Christmas musical written by Steve DeBruyne and Matthew Tomich and featuring a solid cast of 13 returns for its third holiday season at the Dio, the second in its permanent home in Pinckney.

I’ve reviewed the show before, so you can check that out with a quick search here. This year’s incarnation has a few minor touchups, yet retains the loving goofiness of a theatre troup performing a holiday-eve show while it’s diva leading lady decides not to perform because her soldier husband can’t get home for Christmas (with strong singing performances by Thalia Schramm and Peter Crist); it’s leading male is grumpy and grouchy for reasons explained later in the proceedings (Steve DeBruyne, winning as always), and it’s supporting male lead has visible nerves and shakes (a terrific Jared Schneider). Draaaama unfolds, and magic takes place thanks to Santa, and well, that’s enough.

Forget the story — its the framing device for a delightful holiday-music filled show with singing, dancing, humor, and a Santa-approved ending. Even the hilarious “Christmas Star” would agree — right, Elizabeth Jaffe?   Filled with songs ranging the gamut from The Polar Express’s “Believe” to more traditional fare (“I’ll be Home for Christmas”), the pop-rock-country flavor keeps everything moving along under the musical direction of Beth Wondolowski and her three-piece combo, which also includes Leer Sobie and Mary Elizabeth Dee.

The cast also includes Cara Manor, Jim Moll, Mary Jo Del Vero, Anne Bauman, Kristin Reeves, Sarah Brown, Ayla Eichenhofer, and at alternating performances Dominc Ignagni and Gavin Burwell. And for the price of admission, you also get a delicious hearty dinner, prepared by Chef Jarod. You can’t go wrong with an evening at the Dio during the holidays — but book early — this has become an annual holiday treat for families and companies alike during the season.

Directed by Steve DeBruyne, Choreographed by Michelle Marzejon, Lighting, Sound, and Set Design by Matthew Tomich, Costume Design by Norma Polk, Props by Eileen Obradovich.

Home for the Holidays continues through December 31st at the Dio – 177 E Main St, Pinckney, MI Tickets at diotheatre.com or 517-672-6009

Home for the Holidays, Dionysus Theatre, Review December 22, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
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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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