‘Seasons Greetings’ a live musical cabaret at the PNC Arts Annex provides a vast mixture of holiday favorites to enjoy. Beautiful voices mixed with a talented band, in a uniquely different setting makes for a splendid evening either with a special someone, a group of friends or even both.
The duo of vocalists, Gina Handy & Philip Drennen are spirited hosts with bundles of holiday cheer to share. Their chemistry and voices are both pitch-perfect. Handy’s voice is as clear as a melting icicle. Though Handy radiates warmth, I still got chills from her stirring rendition of ‘Santa Baby.’ Handy’s closet has as much range as her voice, as she had three wardrobe changes, including a sparkling evening gown. While singing everything from ‘Rudolph’ to ‘Joy to the World.’
Drennen’s voice is as smooth as a fresh covering of snow. His vocal stylings brought Michael Buble to mind. Similar to how garland accentuates wreathes, Drennen adds extra beauty to every song he touches such as ‘The Christmas Song’ and ‘Sleigh Ride.’
Equally as talented as the singers were the instrumentals provided by Deron Bell and his literal band of brothers. If Drennen is garland, then the band is equivalent of the Griswald’s lights display as they make every song extra radiant. They cover every genre from funk and Motown to blues and jazz.
A strong point of ‘Seasons Greetings’ is its variety, featuring holiday classics, childhood favorites, and a couple lesser-known songs. Its unpredictability is another strength, as no two shows are exactly alike. Really big fans (or perhaps their relatives) could attend each night and hear mostly different songs. In the second act, song requests and Christmas wishes, are taken from the audience. It requires all the musicians to be kept on their toes and they passed with flying colors, despite some tough challenges. With such a wide variety of songs to select from, it’s truly never known what songs will be requested. Variety is defined no better than a holiday rendition of ‘No Diggity’ and a ‘Funkadelic Nutcracker.’ Which were sandwiched in between ‘Silent Night’ and a woke version of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside.’ All were performed with the same level of quality as if they had been rehearsed for months.
I had never attended anything at the PNC Arts Annex and it’s the perfect venue for such an event. The setting is intimate, with the option for table seating or risers. I felt like I was attending the taping of a televised Christmas special, or I guess more fittingly a Cabaret. It was my first Cabaret too, but hopefully not my last.
Treat yourself to a magical night of beloved Christmas music, and if lucky a Debbie Gibson story or maybe a Funkadelic Jingle Bells. The remaining performances are on December 15, 16 and 19 at 7:30 p.m.
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