‘Season’s Greetings’ cabaret builds community with holiday magic

Intimate show returns Dec. 6-10 at PNC Arts Annex.



Dayton has its share of family-oriented holiday traditions from the annual Christmas tree lighting at Courthouse Square to Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s yearly stop at the Nutter Center.

Dayton Live is on its way to building another local holiday tradition with its third annual presentation of “Season’s Greetings: A Holiday Cabaret” slated Dec. 6-10 at PNC Arts Annex in Dayton. The show features singers Gina Handy and Philip Drennen with musical accompaniment from Deron Bell and his band.

“It’s amazing it’s the third one,” Bell said. “I’m super excited about being able to play and accompany Philip and Gina for round three. It’s getting better and better, and it was already great. The response was good the very first time. Just like any production you do, I’d say audience feedback is what really drove us, especially as we began to plan for seasons two and three.

“In whatever I do, I always want to involve the community in some way,” continued Bell, who is in his 14th year as music director for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. “A show like this is a great way to build bridges between local performers and the Dayton community.”

Connecting with area residents is always on the mind of Dayton Live Chief Creative Officer Gary Minyard.

“For Dayton Live, this is another way we’re trying to make sure our community has an opportunity to come out and celebrate the local talent that’s here,” Minyard said. “We bring in tours and national artists but it’s always great to make sure we’re highlighting the gifts of the people we have here locally. We run into people throughout the year that come to other shows that ask me if we’ll be doing ‘Season’s Greetings’ again this year. It’s fun they remember it and had a good time.”



Requests with a twist

One aspect that sets “Season’s Greetings” apart from other holiday programs is a special segment where attendees suggest Christmas songs in a particular style for the singers and musicians.

“Even though the first half of the show is a well-rehearsed set that’s scripted and ready to go, the holiday magic is when the audience pulls us into it,” Bell said. “People can put a request in the Holiday Mailbox in the center of the room and Philip or Gina will go draw out those requests. They might suggest ‘Jingle Bells’ in (the style of) a Motown song or ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ with a rock flavor. They might suggest we mix styles, do an a cappella version or maybe instrumental only.

“We’re totally in the dark but we take on the challenge of doing that,” Bell continued. “We try to add the light to it and bring it to life. It’s super cool because it creates a connection with the audience. It makes them feel like a part of the creative process and they actually become part of it. We figure it out on the fly. It keeps us on our toes but it’s so energetic and so positive that it adds to the holiday magic of the season. That’s really exciting.”



An intimate cabaret

Minyard says the flexibility and intimate nature of PNC Arts Annex makes it the perfect venue for a show like “Season’s Greetings.”

“We’re able to flex out the seating in the show,” Minyard said. “It’s easier for us to create (an) intimate experience in the PNC Arts Annex than any of our other venues. The space itself is very warm. It’s not overwhelming. It’s a high-end, world-class venue with all updated equipment, and it’s accessible from everywhere.”

“Season’s Greetings” is also a show for all ages.

“This is a cabaret but it’s not adults-only,” Minyard said. “It’s a family-friendly show. The audience is just as an important part of the performance as the performers themselves. Not only are they suggesting some of the songs, but there’s also the banter, the interaction and the dialogue that happens. It just makes for a special, unique night. Every show is a little different no matter what.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or donthrasher100@gmail.com.


What: “Season’s Greetings: A Holiday Cabaret”

Where: PNC Arts Annex, 46 W. Second St., Dayton

When: Dec. 6-10; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday

Cost: $30

More info: 937-228-3630 or www.daytonlive.org

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