FORT WORTH Jubilee Theatre is making a joyful noise with Jubilation, a holiday-themed revue that wraps old carols in new packages.
This show, created by the team of Jubilee artistic director Tre Garrett, music director Geno Young and assistant director Jordon Cooper, gets back to Jubilees song-and-dance basics. The storys bare bones (some rent money needs to be raised) provide a frame for the musical numbers. But, to the shows credit, no plot is allowed to get in the way of the entertainment.
The cast comprises five men and four women who sometimes join their voices, but most numbers are delivered as solos, duets and trios of one gender or the other. Among the tunes covered are The Christmas Song, Silver Bells, My Favorite Things and Merry Christmas, Baby. Nearly all of the shows tunes are as familiar as candy canes, but few are delivered in a tried-and-true fashion. Young and the performers put their own stamps on these classics, usually with good effect.
Providing some comic relief is Alyssa Lewis (Carol), who provides a couple of novelty numbers, including the shamelessly gold-digging Santa Baby. Liz Francisco also draws some laughs as the pious Mama Em, who reminds all of the reason for the season before leading them in a fine rendition of O Holy Night.
But the hands-down highlight of the show is the Little Drummer Boy, performed by Oris Phillips Jr. (DeWayne), Edward Beal (Buster) and Malcolm Beaty (Hardy) while executing some nifty steps provided by choreographer Elise Lavallee.
The hand of director Phyllis Cicero is not as apparent in this production as it has been in so many of her Jubilee shows, but I bet we would miss her if she wasnt there, keeping this Christmas express rolling.
About the only Grinch-ing that might be done about this presentation is that it is performed to a recorded score and, overall, it is not as vocally strong as Jubilee shows of this ilk usually are.
But, if you have any doubt about this revues heart being in the right place, all you have to know is one little detail about the shows context: It is set in a place called Rudyville. That is a nod to Jubilee founder Rudy Eastman, who left us at far too young an age in 2005.
And that is about the sweetest Christmas card this theater could ever send.