Is it possible to like the idea of something and dislike the execution of it?
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s rock opera "The Lost Christmas Eve" on Sunday at Orleans Arena was an eye- and ear-popping tribute to technical wizardry and musical talent – a cast of almost three dozen musicians – keeping an old tradition alive.
It also was a hard lesson in overkill.
A show that was too big for the room turned into a relentless case of steampunk-on-steroids delivered with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
I should have known there might be volume issues. Twenty-foot-tall speaker stacks suspended from the rafters were more than big enough to fill an outdoor arena. Couldn’t the traveling show have been trimmed back to better fit the venue? An usher suggested earplugs and kindly provided some.
The storyline seemed like a middle-schooler’s version of an assignment to mash up "Scrooge," "It’s A Wonderful Life," "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and 21st-century social ills. (Dad gives up oxygen-deprived baby after Mom dies in childbirth, only to regret it and see the light thanks to an angel on a mission from the other side of eternity.)
The tale was well-delivered by basso-profundo narrator Phillip Brandon, who popped up out of the fog for a paragraph or two between round after round of Christmaslike songs played by badass metal guitarists and dueling keyboard players screeching, squealing and pounding as loud as they could. I may have even heard spurts of the seven-piece backing orchestra. (A shame, really, because obvious skills got lost in the onslaught.)
Other skills might best have been left in the rehearsal room, including the all-in-black backup singers who entered and left the stage several times in an oddly slow wedding procession march.
The engineering prowess required to set up and choreograph what must have been dozens of dancing laser lights is way cool. But seriously, the dizzying strobe and rapid-fire color changes would have been a lot easier to take in small doses rather than all show long.
The talented people who put the show together definitely did not graduate from the School of Less Is More.
Which is again all too bad because the originality and creativity of what they did is truly impressive. I never would have imagined saying, "Enough already," to what appeared to be a well-meaning Christmas show by a group with a worldwide following.
There also is every good chance that I’m the Scrooge/Grinch here, because most of the crowd of 3,700 appeared to have no trouble enduring the almost 2½- hour program.REVIEW
What: The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “The Lost Christmas Eve”
Where: The Orleans Arena