There’s something magical about the sound of a beautiful vocal, particularly around the holidays. Such magic was in the air Wednesday night as Good Theater opened its 11th annual “Broadway at Good Theater” holiday show, featuring two Broadway stars and 14 local performers.
Broadway vocalist Christopher Pecoraro, who graced the Good Theater stage in 2013, returns this year, joined by Aaron Ramey. Pecoraro’s Broadway credits include Chris in “Miss Saigon” and a feature role in Stephen Sondheim’s “Passion.” Ramey has appeared in five Broadway shows, including “The Bridges of Madison County” and “Jekyll & Hyde.”
The Good Theater stage glittered in blue and silver Wednesday, decked out for the holidays with three lighted Christmas trees, skirted by matching presents. White poinsettias provided the finishing touch.
It was an uplifting evening of song, laughter and heartfelt emotion as the ensemble of performers, backed by a hard-working three-piece band, delivered a two-act evening of nearly 40 Broadway hits and Christmas songs from the 1960s. This is the first year that the production has had a theme, focusing on a particular era.
Marissa Sheltra kicked off the 1960s tribute, leading an ensemble of “von Trapp children” – Marie Dittmer, Lynne McGhee, Jennifer Manzi MacLeod, Jen Means, Amy Roche, Steve Underwood and Michael Wood – in a thoroughly entertaining rendition of “Do Re Mi” from the “Sound of Music.” Her lilting soprano was heavenly, and the ensemble’s antics an absolute delight.
The first act provided a good mix of Broadway and Christmas songs, with various musical styles. Highlights included a duet of “Maine,” from “No Strings,” performed by Underwood and Benjamin Row; a sultry rendition of “Please Come Home for Christmas” from Jessica Thompson; “Little Saint Nick” by the Good Theater Beach Boys (Wood, Row, Jim Gaddis and Halim Moldaver); a spirited rendition of “Miracles of Miracles,” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” by Wood; and a three-part harmony of “A Holly Jolly Christmas” by McGhee, MacLeod and Dittmer.
Pecoraro captivated the audience with smooth vocals on the moving “Who Can I Turn To,” from “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd.”
Ramey made his first appearance at the end of the first act with Underwood and Gaddis, delivering “The Lees of Old Virginia,” from “1776,” bringing powerful vocals and engaging charm.
Good Theater packed even more into Act Two. Ramey returned to the stage for a gorgeous duet with Means on “My Cup Runneth Over,” from “I Do! I Do!,” and a commanding rendition of “The Impossible Dream,” from “Man of La Mancha.” Pecoraro joined MacLeod and Dittmer for an emotional performance of “Why Can’t I Speak/That’s a Beginning,” from “Zorba.”
The local performers also continued to dazzle, with Matt LaBerge delivering a memorable performance of “You’re a Mean One Mister Grinch,” Row and McGhee cracking up the audience with a “cougar medley” of show tunes and Kelly Caufield belting out “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”
Following the company’s must-see finale performance of “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” from “Hair,” Ramey returned for a performance of “It All Fades Away,” from “Bridges of Madison County.” It was the perfect ending for a sublime evening of Broadway performances and holiday cheer, fantastically hosted by Good Theater’s own Ed Sullivan, Brian P. Allen.
WHERE: The St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St, Portland
DATE REVIEWED: Dec. 3; runs through Dec. 7
CONTACT: 207-885-5883, goodtheater.com