Maestro Arts & Reviews

Sunday, November 10, 2002



Somewhere Over The "Valley"


BURBANK, CA -  Judy Garland fans, look out!  She's back.  At least you might think so by the end of the evening.  Playing at The Victory Theater in Burbank, Judy's Scary Little Christmas: A Holiday Special, is one of the most hysterically clever shows to  premiere in recent years.  Imagine some of the biggest stars of Hollywood's yesteryear gathering together, all having something they have been "dying" to say for a long time.  Indeed, they get their chance to have one last cheesy  holiday TV special.  Leading the pack is Judy Garland, played brilliantly by Connie Champagne, who has an odd array of guests (friend and foe)  co-starring in this TV "come back" special.  Connie was so convincing I began to forget that it was not Judy herself.

"Let's Share a Cup of Irish Cheer," was a delightful duet sung with her first guest Bing Crosby, played by Sean Smith.  Smith's characterization of Crosby was impeccable and totally consistent throughout the show.   Don Lucas' facial expressions during his Liberace performance were worth the price of admission.  Just as spectacular was the rambunctious Ethel Merman (Lauri Johnson) filling the theater with her "Gypsy-size" voice.  Having no clue why anyone would think ill of her, legendary Joan Crawford, played remarkably by Joanne O'brien was a vision in shoulder pads.  Pairing up Lillian Hellman and Richard Nixon (played by Jan Sheldrick and Eric Anderson) for a duet was as brilliant as the song they sang, "Ever Been In Love." 

 (Continued in column 2)


(Cont.) Other notable performances were given by Jim Hormel as Punch,  Mark A. Cross as Death, and the members of the talented back-up group: Charles Herrera, Heather Holland, Terri Hornberg and Jonathan Neeley.  Kay Cole created an accurate and stylistic snapshot of this era with her direction and choreography.



James Webber and David Church have created a new Christmas classic that is worth seeing year after year.  The concept is well-conceived, and has an interesting plot twist at the end of the first act when a very unexpected guest arrives.  The message given by the star struck sailor (Dustin Strong) was poignant and appropriate to the plot, but perhaps a little wordy.  Though the second act was a bit   heavy compared to the first act, it was well worth the trip to the theater and the multitude of laughs.   If you missed the show this Christmas, look for it in the future: no doubt it will return.  M. Upward


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