By HOLLY JOHNSON // The company’s annual musical review is showing off some of the town’s best talent.
A stumbling, off-key tuba player, a little girl who’s confused about her religion, a swinging Christmas medley from the forties, a chorus ardently crooning about Portland. It’s all here at Broadway Rose’s delectable “A Very Merry PDX-Mas,” the company’s annual musical review showing off some of the town’s best talent.
It’s very hard for some of us to endure “Chestnuts Roastng” or “Let it Snow” a million times at the mall (or anyway else), but director Dan Murphy and the ensemble of seven include these tunes without dwelling on them, keeping things ironic, funny and sometimes sweet. It’s a good-natured bundle of holiday musical goodies. After all, this is basically a revue, and some of the best moments are the transitions between the songs.
To bring us the seasonal selections, actors briefly take on characters, and besides the cranky adult shoppers and the happy couples, there’s a segment where kids live through Christmas, experience its wonder, and get greedy for gifts. It’s hilarious and downright touching as conceived by Abe Reybold, who created the show.
Collin Carver playing a kid wistfully, angrily sings “My Birthday Comes on Christmas,” and we know how he feels about getting just half the gifts that he deserves: and Isaac Lamb touches our hearts as a very little boy crooning the vintage “I Like Old People” (an ode to grandparents made famous by Danny Kaye), folks who aren’t always telling kids what not to do.
The best number, however, is Dru Rutledge’s operatic rendition of “Exsultate, Jubilate: Alleluia” by Mozart. She has a marvelous classical voice, and in this comic version makes one think of the late, great Anna Russell who sung classical, until she tripped on stage one night, and put the audience in stitches: Thereafter, she became a musical comedian, one of the best. Rutledge uses body poses and facial expressions most delightfully and hilariously, and mostly stubbornly, as other actors try to get her off the stage.
And of course, we have the Bethlehem themes at the end, helped along by youngsters onstage in angel and shepherd outfits. Charming.
Nice work from the onstage mini-band, consisting of musical director Jeffrey Childs on piano and Fletcher Nemeth on bass . Amy Frankel contributed the clever choreography, and Jim Crino designed the charming set pieces. The show runs Thursdays through Sundays through December 22. Visit here or call 503-620-5262.