In Play Reviews

At the time of year when holiday shows are as abundant as good deals at your favorite shopping site, Broadway Rose Theatre Company offers a unique blend of traditional music favorites delightfully packaged with bit of Portland Weird in its latest production, A Very Merry PDX-mas.

Broadway Rose does musicals only, and this show is a musical review of familiar tunes…with a definite nod to Portland. It opened Friday, November 25, to a packed house of people of all ages. It is a completely family-friendly event with broad appeal. The most appealing aspect is that A Very Merry PDX-mas is designed to be enjoyed by those who get what makes the Portland area special.

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The show was conceived by Abe Reybold, who since 2004 has directed many productions at Broadway Rose including, most recently, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He is associate artistic director at Zach theatre in Austin, Texas, but guest directs all over the country. While in Portland last summer he met with the Broadway Rose production staff to brainstorm ideas for the new show.

After Broadway Rose secured rights from the original songwriters, Reybold teamed up with colleague Jay Tumminello to create new lyrics and arrangements. Reybold did is homework well. You know you’re in the right place when there are references to Beavers vs. Ducks, a child’s hilarious lament on what her parents’ interfaith marriage does to her holidays (Shalom Santa sung by Danielle Valentine), and a comic version of Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate: Alleluia as only Dru Rutledge can do it.

The talented cast includes, in addition to Valentine and Rutledge, Collin Carver, Sarah DeGrave, Cassi Q. Kohl, Isaac Lamb, and Benjamin Tissell. They are directed by Dan Murphy, who also appears onstage in several comedic roles. Music is provided by a smart little combo headed by musical director Jeffrey Childs.

It’s difficult to have a favorite moment in this show. The songs are witty and fun. A definite highlight is the choir of small angels, a pint-size Madonna, a shepherd, a wise man, and a very wiggly star who appear on stage near the end of Act II. This show is two hours of great singing, surprises, and a lot of laughs. It runs through December 22 at the Broadway Rose New Stage, 12850 SW Grant Ave., Tigard, OR 97223.

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