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SRT Decks the Halls With Doo-wop Hits

Sierra Repertory Theatre’s world premiere of Sh-Boom! A Christmas Miracle delivers a holiday jukebox musical full of seasonal classics and doo-wop hits heavily dolloped with campy fun.

Known for his creative mash-ups that combine classic hits and colorful storylines, off-Broadway writer Roger Bean has been a boon for SRT, which has produced at least two of his works in recent years, including Route 66 (set to be staged again as part of the 2024 season) and Sh-Boom! Life Could Be a Dream, staged for the first time by SRT last fall.

Sh-Boom! A Christmas Miracle is a brand new sequel Bean developed this past year and allowed SRT first dibs at bringing it to life. If you missed the initial musical, which follows a group of friends who work their way into becoming a hot doo-wop band called Denny and the Dreamers by winning a radio talent contest – no worries – the sequel is really more of an excuse to bring the gang back together for some merry, very madcap holiday antics.

As the story opens, the group’s star has dimmed over the past couple of years mostly due to petty squabbles, and Denny is back living in his mother’s kitschy, basement rec and storage room, trying to reignite the old magic of the quintet with just himself and loyal, sweet-sounding sidekick Wally. Obviously, the two are just not cutting it without the synergy and harmonies of their friends Eugene, Lois and Duke. Eugene and Denny are not speaking; Lois and Duke, now married, have drifted away a bit and also seem to have their own private war going on.

When Wally learns of a performing opportunity at his church’s Christmas Bazaar, he hatches a plan to bring Eugene and Denny back onto speaking terms, and gets Lois and Duke to show up for rehearsals, albeit, separately, at first. As the gang reassembles and begins to hit their stride back together, a parade of ‘50s and ‘60s hits commences with impressive ensemble vocal and dance performances to such tunes as: “Sh-Boom! Life Could Be A Dream,” “Nowhere To Run,” “Shop Around,” “Step By Step,” “The Tears of a Clown,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “This Magic Moment,” “Dance With Me,” and “Too Many Fish In The Sea.”

A Truly Bizarre ‘Church Bazaar’ 

The bandwagon becomes a bit of a clown car when the group finds itself thrust into leading the church program and improvising their own Nativity reenactment. The plot provides the opportunity for Bean to weave in close to a dozen holiday tunes with more classic hits that mesh through clever juxtapositions.

A trio of castmates from the original SRT Sh-Boom production last fall reprise their roles in the holiday show premiere. They are Kabir Gandhi who plays bombastic bandleader Denny, Chris Carranza as Eugene, Denny’s frenemy and scene-stealing comedic foil, and the truly divine Deja Fields as Lois those warmly regal stage presence and mezzo-vocals counter-balance some of the sillier stage antics. SRT company member Sergio Salinas is sweet as peacemaker Wally with strong singing and dance moves.

Directed by SRT Artistic Director Jerry Lee, the production includes musical direction by John Jay Espino, choreography by Rebecca Frazier, scenic design by Josh Christensen, costumes by Andrew Burns, hair and makeup by Brenda O’Brien, sound by Tatiana Covington Parra, lighting by Jonny Painter, and stage management by Michael Laun.

 

Sh-Boom! A Christmas Miracle continues through Friday Dec. 22 at the Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Historic Park. SRT’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella continues through Sunday, Dec. 17 at SRT East Sonora (13891 Mono Way). Showtimes for both productions are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with matinees beginning at noon on Wednesdays, and at 2 p.m. on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. For more details and ticket information visit https://www.sierrarep.org/

 

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