Theatre variety show rings in the Christmas season

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The SVSU theatre department presented its 10th annual Christmas production, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: A Christmas Variety Show,” on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29 in the Malcolm Field Theatre.

The variety show, which included comedy sketches, musical performances, dance numbers and video broadcasts, took audience members back to the days of the ‘60s and ‘70s Christmas specials.

In between several of the acts, vintage CBS commercials aired, advertising products such as U.S. savings bonds, razors, M&M’s and Coca-Cola.

There were 20 acts in total, beginning with the classic Christmas tune “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” performed by Ric Roberts, Brianne Dolney and the Cardinal Singers.

A brass quartet performed three times throughout the evening in between comedy sketches about “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gone wrong and a cop who couldn’t be bribed by Santa Claus.

Pre-health sophomore Alyssa Proctor enjoyed the music performed by these different groups.

“I wasn’t expecting the songs,” Proctor said. “Christmas is my favorite time of year, so it was nice to see. I feel like I want to come to more performances.”

The Dolce Sisters, a trio reminiscent of the many girl groups from the ‘60s, performed twice, once with a comedy- dance sketch between a hapless janitor and life-sized doll performed alongside.

This was followed by a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” by former SVSU President Eric Gilbertson, who invited children from the audience onstage to hear the story. One of these kids turned out to be a performer and continued to sing “I’m Getting’ Nuttin’ for Christmas.”

Miss Piggy and Jared Kaufman performed a Sesame-Street style sketch, with a surprise cameo from Cookie Monster, which was followed by an excerpt from “The Nutcracker.”

The dance number used black lights and featured dancing snow flakes, poinsettias, gingerbread and even candy canes.

Theatre senior Natasha Nash, who played the janitor, has been involved in theatre since her freshman year and has enjoyed this production’s innovation.

“I really enjoyed the use of black light for ‘The Nutcracker,’” Nash said. “It has its challenges, but it’s fun to work with.”

Dave Rzeszutek told the story of the classic Christmas carol “Oh Holy Night” with the use of a video projector portraying sketched versions of the historical figures prominent in the song’s rich history.

Music alumna Madalyn McHugh joined him on stage with her guitar and sang a rendition of “Oh Holy Night,” followed by Ric Roberts and Josh Lloyd’s mash-up between “Little Drummer Boy” and “Peace on Earth.”

Proctor appreciated the inclusion of the history behind the classic tune.

“I really liked the ‘Oh Holy Night’ part,” Proctor said. “I like how they went into detail and gave us a backstory. Madalyn is a really good singer.”

The end of the night brought several songs and stories about Christmas and holiday traditions in other cultures.

McHugh sang “Some Children See Him,” followed by the Cardinal Singers, who performed “Riu Riu Chiu,” a traditional Spanish Christmas song.

Tommy Wedge told the story of Hanukkah, and the Cardinal Singers sang “Mi Yemalel,” a traditional Hanukkah song.

The full ensemble entered the stage to round out the evening with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” ending the 10th annual Christmas performance.

McHugh, who was asked to return and perform two songs after graduating in December 2017, enjoyed the opportunity to return and participate in this production.

“Everybody has a lot of energy and it puts you in a Christmas mood,” McHugh said. “If they asked me back again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”