It’s a rocking Christmas celebration over in Los Feliz as Rockwell Table & Stage presents its short-but-sweet—and family-friendly—A Rockin’ Rockwell Family Christmas, an hour of fabulous vocals by six of Southern California’s top up-and-coming musical theater talents.
Directed with abundant holiday pizzazz by Justin Jones, A Rockin’ Rockwell Family Christmas stars StageSceneLA favorites Valerie Rose Curiel, Jones, Jeffrey Landman, Shane Orser, Louis Pardo, Laura L. Thomas, and assorted guest stars (last night’s was teenage charmer Eileen Garrido) in solo, duet, and full-cast mode performing fifteen holiday favorites.
Making full use of Rockwell’s cabaret club setting, Jones has his performers not only up onstage with musical director Brian P. Kennedy but on the runway and mingling throughout the crowd as host Peter Allen Vogt introduces each new act with his trademark brand of sass and camp.
Rock-n-rollers will enjoy Thomas’s infectious “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” Pardo’s swinging “What Christmas Means To Me,” and Orser’s sing-along “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” while Broadway buffs will appreciate the inclusion of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Turkey Lurkey Time,” a full-cast winner from 1966’s Promises, Promises.
Sexy and seductive are the words for Curiel’s “Santa Baby” and Orser and Landman’s same-sex rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” while a quartet of ballads (Jones’s “Christmas Time Is Here,” Curiel’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “The Christmas Song,” and Thomas’s “Merry Christmas Darling”) can’t help but bring up fond melodies of holiday seasons past.
It wouldn’t be an old-fashioned Christmas without “The Twelve Days Of Christmas,” however in honor of the hipsters of Los FEElis (that’s how we L.A. natives pronounce it), Jones has cleverly rewritten the classic carol as “The 12 Hours Of Soltice,” his hour-by-hour blow-by-blow backed up by Landman, Pardo, and Thomas and some precision “hand-ography.”
It wouldn’t be a contemporary Christmas without Wham’s “Last Christmas,” sung by Orser, or John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” the evening’s full-cast grand finale.
And it wouldn’t be December without Hanukkah, which Landman salutes with “The Little Boy That Santa Forgot.”
As for guest star Garrido, “Let It Go” and “White Christmas” showcase the crystal-clear vocals of the 15-year-old founder of Beating Hearts Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to help children with cardiovascular illnesses.
It’s hard to imagine a more vocally blessed bunch of performers than the enchanting Curiel (recently Eponine in La Mirada’s Les Miz), [title of show] lead actor Scenie winner Landman at his impish best, statuesque stunner Orser (Bobby in 3-D Theatricals’ A Chorus Line), sensational 2-time Best Lead Actor Scenie winner Pardo (Chess, Pippin), Psyche’s stunning Scenie-winning Thomas, and the adorably multi-talented star of The Drowsy Chaperone and Nuttin’ But Hutton, aka director/star Jones.
Resident Rockwell musical director Kennedy once again proves himself one of L.A.’s finest MDs, with the as always topnotch Justin Smith joining in on guitar and Mike Deutsch parum-pum-pumming on the drums. Pizzazzing up the evening was Robert Bradley’s flashy lighting and crystal-clear sound design.
With an extra twenty minutes of song (and an encore tune) added on to give audiences full bang for their bucks, A Rockin’ Rockwell Family Christmas could easily become a Rockwell Table & Stage tradition. I for one wouldn’t mind coming back for more in 2015.
Rockwell Table & Stage, 1714 N. Vermont, Los Angeles.
December 23, 2014