With everything else going on in the world, there’s a nice little respite below the hills in Escondido at the Welk Resort Theatre where co-creator Larry Rabin with co- director Noelle Marion and choreographer and co-creator Cheryl Baxter Ratliff are presenting “Welkome Home For The Holidays” in a two hour sing and dance fest through Dec. 29th.
Billed as a love letter to “The Rat Pack” TV Holiday Specials of the past, it’s a holiday/variety/ fun filled songfest with a thinly veiled story line.
With some forty plus holiday songs sung by many of your favorite local musical theatre performers, the show is hosted by daytime soap star Eric Marstolf, an amicable, easy going host with a whole bunch of charisma and a big baritone voice.
The terrific on stage band is headed by conductor/piano Allen Everman (a find) with Mike Masessa on on drums and percussion and Martin Martiarena on bass. Eric’s quiet at home evening, wearing a Mr. Rogers type sweater in red, soon becomes the gathering place for his ‘drop in friends’. And that’s really when the party begins.
Similar to the old Dean Martin holiday shows there are ‘oldies but goodies: “Count your Blessings” (with Erica Marie Weisz), “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, “What Are You Doing New Years?” and “Winter Wonderland”, “Marshmallow World” and of course “Rudolph The Red -Nosed Reindeer”.
|Luke Harvey Jacobs, Sean Thomas Kiralla, Jacob Caltrider and Allen Everman|
Those needing a religious fix include “O Holy Night” sung impressively by Misty Cotton, and “Little Drummer Boy” (visually and beautifully orchestrated completely in the dark. ‘Come they told me ‘Pa rum pump pump um- the drums were lit up in blue florescence.) It was pretty impressive and sent shivers.
The band played a bouncy “Rudolph Mambo” and “Mambo Santa” with Jacob, Leslie, Luke, Sean, Andrea, Shirley and Kya showed off their dancing skills.
Eric’s solo of “Count Your Blessings” and “What Are You Doing New Years Eve?” proved his strong chops are equal to his good looks.
Bethany’s “I Want A Hippopotamus For Chrisymas" brought the house down and the “Boogie Woogy Santa” had some wanting to hop up on stage and join the dancers. Misty, Bethany, Shirley and Erin wanted Santa to “Bring Me A Man This Christmas”.
|Bethany Slomka and Misty Cotton|
And for the big surprise: an audience member was picked (ahead of time, I might add) to act out a scene with Eric to possibly be his next leading lady in his TV series. It was all fun and games a break from the non -stop singing and dancing.
The talented all inclusive cast with Kaya Cafaro (recently seen in “Addams Family”).
Jacob Caltrider (33-1/3 House Of Dreams), Misty Cotton, (“Mama Mia”) Allen Everman, Luke Harvey Jacobs (“Sister Act”), Shirley Johnson, Sean Thomas Kiralla (“Addams Family”), Bethany Slomka (“Hairspray”), Leslie Stevens, Erin Vanderhyde (“All Shook Up”), Erica Marie Weisz (“Addams Family”) and Andrea Williams, (“Sweet Charity”), gives it their all.
|The Cast of 'Welkome Home"|
Rory Brown designed the set including some easy chairs and of course a bar, Patrick Hoyny’s sound, Janet Pitcher’s bright and contrasting with black holiday costumes fit the mood of the holiday and Jennifer Edwards lighting design is holiday perfect.
Santa brings all the kids up on stage and sings a special song to them. Bring the whole family to enjoy traditional, pop, a Broadway nod (“Happy Days Are Here Again”) and seasonal music and dance fit for a Welk Holiday Show.
|Sean Thomas Kiralla, Luke HArvey Jacobs, Jacob Caltrider, Misty Cotton and Allen Everman|
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Dec. 29th
Organization: Welk Resort Theatre
Production Type: Musical
Where: 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive, Escondido, CA 92026
Ticket Prices: $59.00 performance only/ $79.00 pre dinner and show.
Venue: Welk Resort Theatre
Photo: Ken Jacques