Arts & Leisure

Holiday magic for family at the Gem

SOMETHING for the whole family at "The Holiday Gem" now on stage at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove (OMP Photo by Shoko Araki).

SOMETHING for the whole family at “The Holiday Gem” now on stage at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove (OMP Photo by Shoko Araki).

By Thom deMartino

“I believe in the magic of Christmas!”

Holidays can be tough. With end-of-the-year stresses, rushing to get gifts and contending with long work hours and short daylight, sometimes it’s hard to keep that yuletide holiday spirit.

“The Holiday Gem,” currently playing at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove through and performed by the resident One More Productions troupe, is one way for the whole family to lift those dreary seasonal spirits.

stagereviewbugErnie and Emma (John Gillies and Lily Edwards), two of Santa Claus’s elfin helpers who have been tasked with collecting the magic Christmas cheer that powers the man in red’s sled, have found themselves in Garden Grove, California, as they struggle to fill their final, half-full canister. When they stumble across some of the locals half-heartedly practicing for the community holiday production — some showboating, others catfighting, still another engrossed in her Snapchat app — they know they’ve found just the right folks to help rediscover the spirit of the season.

With the help of the elves’ magical snow globe of holiday cheer and the words “I believe in the magic of Christmas” the cast are whirled away one by one to Christmas Fantasyland, where the group engage in an array of the most popular and beloved seasonal songs to warm the heart of even the most cynical Grinch… unless you happen to be a rogue elf from the South Pole.

The wicked — perhaps misunderstood? — Evelyn (Dee Shandera) has decided that if she can’t have a merry Christmas, then she and her freeze gun will ensure no one else will either. After turning Santa’s workshop helpers into elf-cicles, she’s off to track down the jolly man himself — not realizing that the bombastic (and scene-stealing) Mrs. Claus (Adriana Sanchez) has slipped through her grasp.

Can the combined efforts of Mrs. Claus, Ernie, Emma and the cast thwart the jaded Evelyn and save Christmas? The clock is ticking…

An in-house production conceived by One More Productions co-founders Damien Lorton (director of the musical) and Nicole Cassesso (Executive Director of OMP), “The Holiday Gem” has been an annual staple of the Gem Theater in Garden Grove for several years now, though it was recently announced that the 2017 run may be the last.

goodmovielogoThe show offers a number of beautifully performed and choreographed musical numbers, some outstanding solo pieces, even a few touching moments of honesty from the cast: as they disclose some of their own special holiday memories, and what Christmas means to them, with the audience. Some have even grown up with the show, working on the annual productions — a testament to the musical’s popularity and longevity.

There are several notable highlights to the show, including a melodious and commanding solo by Erika Baldwin, a touching tercet performed by Tad Fujioka, Peter Crisafulli and Nicole Cassesso, a sing-along for the audience to join in with the cast — and, ultimately, a stage-full of tap-dancing Santas. (Yes, you read that right.)

Geared for all audiences, and ideal for some of the younger family members “The Holiday Gem” is in a limited run through mid-December: and like the season, will be gone before you know it, so catch it while you can.

“The Holiday Gem,” a celebration of the season and the holiday spirit, is playing through Dec. 18 at the Gem Theater, 12852 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA, 92840. Call 714-741-9550 x221 or e-mail boxoffice@onemoreproductions.com for ticketing information. Appropriate for all ages.

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