Rockin' Christmas Party

Local Arts Reviews

Exhibitionism

Rockin' Christmas Party

Paramount Theatre, through Dec. 20

Running Time:

2 hrs., 30 min.

If you're looking for something really loud, bright, fast, and flashy, then head on down to the Paramount, where Zachary Scott Theatre Center is holding its annual Rockin' Christmas Party. Every city and town in the country undoubtedly has its own Christmas traditions, and Zach has introduced at least two to Austin: The Santaland Diaries, currently playing on Zach's Arena Stage, and this annual holiday fete featuring the cast of Beehive.

I saw the very first performance of Beehive way back in the early Nineties. It was one of those shows that was magical from the get-go, and it's a tribute to director Dave Steakley that he's managed to keep so many of the people involved in that production together for so long. Andra Mitrovich, Felicia Dinwiddie, and Rebecca Schoolar contribute the usual pop standards and seasonal favorites here, joined by singers Quincy Kuykendall and Dan Sullivan and dancers Kasey Erin Eggleston and Jennifer Young. For a solid 21/2 hours, each puts out like crazy, singing and dancing with barely a break. Highlights include the inimitable Judy Arnold just about every time she exercises her vocal cords, but especially on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Silent Night" (and an emphatic nod to musical director Allen Robertson for his pleasing and original arrangement of the latter Christmas standard).

Most of the time, though, I felt like I was being sold a bill of goods. The opening sequence, which lasts 17 minutes, never goes beyond the bombastic and the frenetic. (Did I mention that it's really loud?) The script, such as it is, hangs by a bare thread: Because they've all been so good, Santa has decided to give each of the singers their own personal Christmas fantasy, so we get sequences like Sullivan as Elvis and Schoolar as a Dolly Partonish country diva. But after all these years of beehives and parties, who needs an excuse to hear these people sing? It all seemed forced and under-rehearsed, especially the dances, and the technical aspects didn't always help, either. While the flamboyant costumes, huge, colorful sets, and even more huge, equally colorful wigs that designer Michael Raiford provided were appropriate, there was barely a subtle choice in sight, and the same goes for Jason Amato's lights, which seemed to use everything but the kitchen sink (and I think I just missed the sink). The lack of subtlety extended to Roy Taylor's sound, which seemed to have three volumes: Loud, Loud, and Hey, I Think My Left Eardrum Just Burst. Sometimes it was so loud, the set vibrated visibly. Because he didn't try to sell me a thing, I enjoyed young Bryan Pacheco's dancing as Rudolph, and this was true of the most effective part of the show as well, during the second act, when the singers did little more than stand in front of a huge tinsel curtain in fairly plain, unadorned costumes, and just sang. I could have used a lot more of that.

I seemed to be in the minority, as the almost full house constantly shouted and clapped its approval. But as my guest and I were walking out of the theatre, a little girl, strangely expressing both the audience's and my sentiments, said, "That was a lot of fun. And it was really loud." It was, too.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Arts Reviews
All the Way
All the Way
In Zach Theatre's staging of this epic political drama about LBJ, the fight for civil rights feels particularly urgent

Robert Faires, May 1, 2015

Random Acts of Magic
Random Acts of Magic
The 2015 batch of Out of Ink 10-minute plays is a satisfying buffet of silliness and thoughtfulness

Elizabeth Cobbe, May 1, 2015

More by Barry Pineo
Arts Review
Guest by Courtesy
Etiquette takes a pratfall in this comic battle for control between cousins

Nov. 11, 2011

Arts Review
The B. Beaver Animation
The Rude Mechs' re-creation of the Mabou Mines work is necessary but strange

Nov. 4, 2011

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

holiday theatre, Rockin' Christmas Party, Zachary Scott Theatre Center, The Santaland Diaries, Beehive, Dave Steakley, Andra Mitrovich, Felicia Dinwiddie, Rebecca Schoolar, Quincy Kuykendall, Dan Sullivan, Kasey Erin Eggleston, Jennifer Young, Judy Arnold, Allen Robertson, Michael Raiford, Jason Amato, Roy Taylor, Bryan Pacheco

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle