Splash Magazines

A Kokandy Christmas Review - An Evening of Holiday Cheer

By Jessie Bond

View the Full Article | Return to the Site

(left to right) Sasha Smith, Emily Grayson, Jaymes Osbourne, Garrett Lutz and Christina Hall in Kokandy Productions’ holiday show A KOKANDY CHRISTMAS, created by Michael Potsic and Allison Hendrix, directed by Michael Potsic, with music direction by Aaron Benham. Photo by Samuel Rose

 

Kokandy Productions presents its first ever holiday show, A Kokandy Christmas, an evening of stories and songs celebrating the Christmas season. Five actors and a three-piece band bring this cheerful performance to life with energy, enthusiasm, and charm.

 

(left to right) Christina Hall, Emily Grayson, Garrett Lutz, Sasha Smith and Jaymes Osbourne in Kokandy Productions’ holiday show A KOKANDY CHRISTMAS, created by Michael Potsic and Allison Hendrix, directed by Michael Potsic, with music direction by Aaron Benham. Photo by Samuel Rose

 

The show is structured like a typical musical theatre revue, with a steady flow of monologues, scenes, and songs, including group numbers, duets, and solos. What is especially enjoyable about Kokandy Christmas’ selection of material is that the monologues are autobiographical, with each ensemble member sharing a favorite Christmas memory with the audience. This gives the show a personal touch, and combined with the intimate size of the house and general charisma of the performers, creates a kind of comradery among the people in the room. This spirit of togetherness is the loveliest part of the performance, with the Kokandy ensemble inviting its small house to join with them in celebration of the holiday season and the audience responding with enthusiasm. 

 

(left to right) Garrett Lutz, Christina Hall, Sasha Smith, Jaymes Osbourne and Emily Grayson in Kokandy Productions’ holiday show A KOKANDY CHRISTMAS, created by Michael Potsic and Allison Hendrix, directed by Michael Potsic, with music direction by Aaron Benham. Photo by Samuel Rose

 

The music selections are enjoyable as well, featuring a balanced blend of familiar and lesser-known Christmas songs in a variety of styles. Among my particular favorites are Jaymes Osbourne’s powerful rendition of “O Holy Night” and Sasha Smith’s sultry serenade of “All I Want for Christmas is You” to an unwilling Garrett Lutz. Christina Hall also shines in her sweet, beautifully sung version of “A Tender Tennessee Christmas,” and Emily Grayson takes “River,” generally an uninspired Christmas song in my experience, and elevates it to something majestic by pairing it with a moving story from her life.

 

(left to right) Garrett Lutz and Sasha Smith in Kokandy Productions’ holiday show A KOKANDY CHRISTMAS, created by Michael Potsic and Allison Hendrix, directed by Michael Potsic, with music direction by Aaron Benham. Photo by Samuel Rose

 

The band also gets a chance to shine, with drummer Scott Simon eagerly sharing his own unique rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy” and pianist and music director Aaron Benham inviting the audience to join in a singalong of a medley of “Peace, Peace” and “Silent Night” that he and his mother used to perform together in church. A game of Holiday Password featuring two brave audience volunteers is another highlight.

 

(left to right) Jaymes Osbourne, Christina Hall and Emily Grayson in Kokandy Productions’ holiday show A KOKANDY CHRISTMAS, created by Michael Potsic and Allison Hendrix, directed by Michael Potsic, with music direction by Aaron Benham. Photo by Samuel Rose

 

The show is not particularly design-heavy, but lighting designer Brandon Wardell makes great use of strings of Christmas lights draped on the upstage wall and around an onstage Christmas tree, which flash at relevant moments of the performance.

 

(left to right) Garrett Lutz and Jaymes Osbourne in Kokandy Productions’ holiday show A KOKANDY CHRISTMAS, created by Michael Potsic and Allison Hendrix, directed by Michael Potsic, with music direction by Aaron Benham. Photo by Samuel Rose

 

Overall, the show is a fun evening of theatre that leaves its audience in good spirits. If you’re looking for a quick way to get into the holiday spirit, I would recommend spending an evening with the ensemble of Kokandy Christmas.

 

Ticket Information

Location:  Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

Dates: Saturday, December 5 – Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Curtain Times: Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm & 7 pm.

Please note: there will not be a 7 pm performance on Sunday, December 6. There will be an added performance on Tuesday, December 22 at 8 pm.

Tickets: Previews $15. Regular run $30. Tickets are available at the Kokandy website, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office.

Published on Dec 06, 2015

View the Full Article | Return to the Site