Honkey Tonk Holiday Remix is Best Christmas Party of the Year!

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    Reviewed by Susanna Wu-Pong

     

    NewHonkyTonkChristmasFull disclosure – I don’t like country music and I think Christmas music should be corralled to the week before Christmas. So to say that I was less than excited about spending this pre-Thanksgiving evening listening to a country Christmas musical is a bit of an understatement.

    Director and scene designer Tom Width sets the stage of a Nashville bar, right down to the requisite country music legends on the wall and the grimy tablecloths. It reminds me of the smoky beer joint that my math teacher took us to during a high school math competition in Texas. There, underaged me danced with and was hit on by an overaged stranger, both firsts for me. We’re not off to a good start.

    A glimmer of hope is sparked when I realize that some of my favorite Richmond songstresses will be gracing the stage. The arrival of the Sawnie “Trip” Aldredge Band in their Santa cowboy hats then foreshadowed an evening full of merry, musical fun.

    And boy, did this Christmas party deliver!

    Musical director Paul Deiss creates a musical advent calendar, each number revealing some fantastical combination of new, holiday songs, non-holiday songs with a related theme, and the old Christmas favorites. Of particular note is the Jingle Bell medley, Angela’s dream scene, the applesauce cake number, and the squirrel song. Before long, this Yankee Scrooge was laughing at the delightful, playful costumes, and tapping her feet to, yes, holiday standards and country music.

    Maura Lynch Cravey shines all evening with her parade of country Christmas costumes. Next reindeer stop: glue gun and craft store in preparation for my next holiday party.

    The vocal talent in Honky Tonk Angels is pretty darn remarkable. Each carol is delivered by the Angels with commitment and verve. Robin Arthur amuses as the energetic and flirtatious Sue Ellen. Katrinah Carol Lewis as Charilee never fails to charm us with her rich vocals and engaging performance. Debra Wagoner, of Forever Patsy Kline fame, once again earns her wings as a country music singer and makes me wonder why I don’t like country music in the first place. Iconic Richmond favorite Robyn O’Neill proves, yet again, that Richmond can go head-to-head with any big city theater community.

    Honky Tonk Angels Holiday Spectacular, well-worth the trip to the Southside, is a gift of Christmas cheer to Scrooges and Grinches of all ages. I may even make another trip before the month is up, just to escape the holiday madness. You should too!

    Honky Tonk Angels Holiday Spectacular is showing at Swift Creek Mill Theatre through January 10, Thursday through Saturday evenings and select matinee dates. For tickets and showtimes, go here: Honky Tonk Holiday or call 804-748-5203.