WESTERLY — There are gorgeous voices and beautiful music in the Granite Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Survival Guide,” now on stage through Dec. 23, including a memorable and powerful rendition of “Oh Holy Night,” performed by the entire cast … including the man in charge. And I don’t mean Santa.
Scott Morency, who plays keyboard and serves as both music director and director for the sometimes-oddball musical revue, joins the cast for the singing of the holiday favorite. Actually, I take that back … he leads the cast in singing the much-revered Christmas carol, and it is one of the highlights of the program. Morency also joins the rest of the cast — three women, two men and an adorable 11-year-old who happens to be his son, Caeden — in several numbers while also serving as the narrator for the revue … a series of skits stitched together with song.
Once described as “one of the funniest Christmas musical revues around,” “A Christmas Survival Guide” is based on the notion that there exists a book somewhere, a guidebook designed to help us through the pitfalls of the season. Pitfalls like Christmas shopping, the requisite visit to a department store Santa, heading to the dreaded Christmas party without a date and spending the holidays alone. The kooky cast shows us how best to cope with the stresses that often accompany the joy of the holiday. There’s even an ugly-sweater scene, a Star Wars skit, and a spoof on 12-step programs.
Soprano Jessica Gates, who has performed for two Popes, the program tells us, and has sung at Fenway Park, is enchanting. Her voice is rich and strong and a delight to the ears.
Denise Lacharite, who has appeared in a number of musicals at the Granite, is a dynamo with a powerful set of lungs — her “I’d Like to Hitch a Ride with Santa Claus” is a hoot. Lacharite, who gives a bit of a Mae West-style of performance, is terrific. As is Courtney Littlefield, who adds a mournful moment with her “Little Girl Blue.”
Nicholas Lombardo, appearing for the second time at the Granite, is a fine addition to the cast and makes for a wonderful Santa. His “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” duet with Gates is excellent.
William Pereira, in his fifth Granite performance, gives an Elvis to remember. The sleigh ride — complete with human horse — was marvelous.
But it’s 11-year-old Caeden Morency who stole my heart. Call me corny and call me sentimental, but watching a youngster perform on stage, so innocent, earnest and pure — especially at this time of year — is guaranteed to melt. What a darling child he is, and what a wonderful job he did in the mix of all the adults.
Speaking of adults, I’ll admit I cringed at some of the bawdy references and wondered if there weren’t some moments of tone-deafness regarding national news of inappropriate behavior these last few weeks. I believe jokes about whips and naughtiness are better left in the stable. Especially with children on stage and in the audience.
The music was superb, thanks to Tiffany Morency (who is married to Scott and mother to Caeden), who played an enchanting flute, and Tom Oldfield on drums.
And the sets were fabulous.
The show was conceived and written by James Hindman and Ray Roderick with musical arrangements by John Glaudin.
"A Christmas Survival Guide" runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., except Sunday, Dec. 24. Tickets are $25, $22 for patrons 62 and older, and $15 for children.
Visit granitetheatre.com for more information or call 401-596-2341.