Hard Knock Christmas, A Musical Revue, opens at the Lakewood Playhouse Friday night December 9, replacing the scheduled Annie, due to recent rights restrictions. Audiences are in for a pleasant treat, which they may just find more enjoyable than the originally planned event.
In a little more than four weeks, Director Micheal O’Hara, Managing Artistic Director Marcus Walker and members of the cast have put forth an astounding effort to make Hard Knock an excellent beginning for the holiday season.
The revue is comprised of Christmas music from various Broadway shows, some traditional songs of the season and a few readings from holiday fare. All this is tied together with nicely written segway dialogue.
The cast of 21 includes the 10 young girls who were scheduled to be in Annie. These nine to 13-year-olds sing, dance and act their way right into the hearts audience. Sariah Brumet, Carina Coppedge-Pope, Lily Miller, Savannah Wissmer, Mariah Boring, Brenna Davison, Kali McDonald, Catherine Ross, Bailee Wicks and Rebecca Wyman prove to be pros in the making, as do Carly Lehman and Jessica Reynolds two teen-age cast members
The adults in the cast, Bob Beals, Tim Fobes, Sharry O’Hare, Marcus Walker, Molly Callendar, Ernie Heller, Micheal O’Hara, Phil Raschke and Lauren Wood are sometimes hard pressed to take back the show from the scene-stealing younger set.
It’s difficult to single out individual performances in an ensemble show. There are really no “stars” in this production, except, perhaps in the eyes of the onlookers. But, as one preview audience member said & and rightfully so & listening to Sharry O’Hare belt out “All I want for Christmas is a One Night Stand & at Carnegie Hall,” is well worth the trip to the theatre. O’Hare does the number like a cross between Ethel Merman and Sophie Tucker. What a treat.
Other notable musical numbers are Heller, Wood, Davison and Wicks singing “Christmas in Killarney,” “Tomorrow,” delivered with gusto by Catherine Ross who was to play Annie, “It’s a Hard Knock Life” done by the younger set, “Almost Young,” again with O’Hare and the girls. There is a stunning rendition of “Peace on Earth” sung juxtaposed with “Silent Night,” by the entire cast
There are many more comical and dramatic moments, including a unique “Twelve Days of Christmas,” with O’Hare as the recipient of the gifts, Walker’s well acted cutting from “A Christmas Carol” and Raschke’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”
But best of all, the production keeps the audience tapping a toe & sometimes stomping a foot & to some wonderful music beautifully performed to the piano accompaniment of Musical Director Debra Leach & all this on an imaginative simplistic set by Scott Campbell.
Micheal O’Hara has done an unbelievable job of putting together such a large cast in the true tradition of Mickey and Judy. Hard Knock Christmas, A Musical Revue is the show, Lakewood Playhouse is the barn, the cast is the Babes in Arms.
Hard Knock Christmas continues at the Lakewood Playhouse December 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22; Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., with a special Pay-What-You-Can night Thursday, December 15. For reservations or more information, call the box office at (253) 588-0042.
The Lakewood Playhouse is in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center adjacent to the Pierce Transit Bus Terminal.
Submitted by Lynn Geyer