VOICES OF CHRISTMAS: Theatre Horizon’s Holiday Gift

by Ronald Comer

VOICES OF CHRISTMAS, presented by Theatre Horizon in Norristown, PA through December 31:(l to r) Caroline Dooner, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Jamison Forman, Ben Michael, and Maggie Lakis.

Theatre Horizon continues its holiday show tradition with VOICES OF CHRISTMAS, conceived and directed by Theatre Horizon’s Resident Director and Barrymore Award winner Matthew Decker. Last year’s holiday season show, THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, was recently awarded four Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. This season’s audiences are offered an original production comprised of stories and songs performed by four talented musical theatre artists who hope to convey in special ways to all the spirit of Christmas.

Recommended for theatre goers ages twelve and over, VOICES OF CHRISTMAS emerged out of a creative process that began with thinking about and getting in touch with those very personal experiences of the season that may also be most commonly felt by all. Stories intended to portray these feelings were then selected from already published material, as well as from individual life experiences shared by each of the show’s four actors. Credits for use of previously published stories include those by e.e. cummings, Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor and others, including an especially funny adaptation of the “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, written by Colin Nissan.

Each of the four outstanding members of the show’s ensemble performed their stories and songs in a manner that allowed them to directly connect with their audience. The natural quality with which each performed their stories and musical numbers created an atmosphere that seemed much more like sitting around a living room with family members swapping stories and songs, than merely observing performances as audience members otherwise separated from performers by conventional boundaries.

Bringing the stories to life were ensemble members Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Caroline Dooner, Maggie Lakis, and Ben Michael. Each possesses a wonderful singing voice, stellar as soloists and as members of shared choral numbers. All are engaging storytellers. Some of the musical numbers were hardly what one would consider as traditional for the season, mixed with those more commonly known, such as O Holy Night, Good King Wenceslas, God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, and We Three Kings. However, taken together, the ninety-minute compilation of eclectic music and enactments of often deeply moving stories hangs together very well and provides what I am sure audiences will agree to be a thoughtfully presented new way to connect with what is best about the Christmas season.

Adding to the magic of VOICES OF CHRISTMAS, are the musical talents of Jamison Forman, Music Director and pianist, Mike Reilly, on percussion, and Mike DiFebbo, guitarist. These three musicians provide wonderfully smooth accompaniment throughout the show and even engage stage-center during some of the numbers with the four principals, who also share their musical talents playing various instruments. All in all, this new production by Theatre Horizon provides theatre lovers with a uniquely entertaining holiday treat.

Conceived and Directed by Matthew Decker
December 8-31, 2011
Theatre Horizon
The Center Theatre
208 DeKalb Street
Norristown, PA
(610) 283-2230

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