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‘Signature Christmas’ full of cheer

Holiday shows frequently try to get us to forgive their mediocrity with our seasonal good will. Signature Productions’ annual “A Signature Christmas,” which ends its brief run tonight at Summerlin Library, is equal parts talent and cheer. It gets you into the proper spirit without condescending, without substituting sentimentality for legitimate showmanship.

Directors Leslie Fotheringham and Leslie Hadley’s 90-minute revue is a relaxed, low-key affair. A diversified cast of 14 (and three onstage musicians) stand, sit on stools and move about on a stage festively decorated and backed by a scrim of star-pocked sky.

They offer us some traditional songs with traditional arrangements, traditional songs with nontraditional arrangements, humorous character numbers seldom heard, and one or two downers that remind us some people are especially hurting this time of year.

Brandon Albright gets things moving with a simple but attention-getting snippet of “Immanuel” that immediately pumps the house. Albright’s sweet voice is not only becoming more unaffected, but he’s growing more sensitive to lyric. His songs feel like one-act plays.

Taylor Sinquefield and Brad Hafen’s exciting upper range leaves you breathless. Kelly Albright makes “A Baby Changes Everything” not only a belter’s paradise, but a personal story that feels born of the heart.

I could have done without the laborious comedy monologues sprinkled throughout. They’re poorly written and redundant. The music tells us all we need to know.

Smiles occasionally feel frozen. The likable Audrey Hansen, for example, sings “Baby Please Come Home” so happily, that she doesn’t seem to realize what a torturously sad song it is.

And I wish producer Karl Larsen would drop his opening speeches. He reads them like a sleep-deprived professor, telling us how “wonderful” the cast is and how Signature’s productions are “great.” It’s not that I disagree. I just think it would be more dignified to let the audience make those decisions.

But the electrifying reactions elicited by the mere sound of many of the voices are a testament to how music can communicate with the soul in ways that words frequently cannot.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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