Left - PJ Lane and Rhonda Burchmore. Photo - Kurt Sneddon
‘Tis the season to be jolly and this year’s Adelaide Festival Centre’s Christmas Proms are as warm and hearty as chestnuts roasting on an open fire. This is a tinsel draped show for kids from one to ninety-two. The opening song, Away in a Manger, sung under a gas lamppost, by chirpy Victorian carollers, hints at ghosts of Christmas past and a Dickensian theme. One of the lesser-known delights of our city's musical life is the joyful Adelaide Vocal Project, a chorus of 16 voices guided by Timothy ‘Ebenezer’ Sexton who also conducts the triumphant Adelaide Art Orchestra. Their rendition of Away, like the production as a whole, has much to commend it.
“Bah humbug!” hollers Sexton as he enters the stage but his tone is light-hearted and soon the audience is having a merry little Christmas as it participates in trolling ancient Yule tide carols such as Joy to the World, O Come, all Ye Faithful and Once in Royal David’s City. But the show really takes off when charismatic Rhonda Burchmore enters the stage in rags and sings When You Wish Upon a Star coupled with Somewhere Over the Rainbow, yet throughout it’s obvious that this long-legged Cinderella will end up with her ball gown. All her songs, including In My Daughter’s Eyes and Get Happy are expertly delivered but her versions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Silent Night – a duet with PJ Lane - have arguably the biggest impact. Indeed there are strong vocals throughout; Lane presents Christmas Song, George Michael’s Last Christmas the evergreen White Christmas with a suave almost schmaltzy style. But perhaps some of the finest moments are Peter Kendall’s organ solo (on the impressive Festival Theatre Silver Jubilee Organ), Moose and Boppa’s clowning, and the exciting Carol of the Bells performed by the primary school children of Mt. Torrens Bell Ringers.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, opens the second act as the Adelaide Vocal Project brings more tidings of comfort and joy. There’s sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too as Burchmore takes a Sleigh Ride and asks to Let It Snow. With songs, some dance moves, lovely costumes, plenty of family fun, and more than a dose of Christmas spirit, the 2010 Christmas Proms has an almost perfect mix of magical festive ingredients – plus fantastic voices, brilliant musicianship and smooth direction from Katherine Fitzgerald - to keep audiences satisfied well beyond the figgy pudding.
Adelaide Festival Centre’s
2010 Christmas Proms
Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Dates: Friday 17 December, 11.00am & 7:30pm | Saturday 18 December, 2.00pm & 6:30pm
Tickets: Family of 4 $110 (extra child $27.50), Premium $50, Adult $38, Concession $35, Child 3 – 17 years $33.
Bookings: BASS on 131 246 | www.bass.net.au