‘Season’s Greetings’ holiday cabaret returns to PNC Arts Annex

Some of your favorite holiday songs will flavor the return engagement of “Season’s Greetings,” slated Dec. 8-11 at the PNC Arts Annex.

Vocalists Gina Handy, who has appeared with Human Race Theatre Company, and Philip Drennen, executive director of TheatreLab Dayton, are back accompanied by music director Deron Bell’s “merry melody makers” to reimagine an assortment of seasonal classics.

“This show is done in a relaxed, cabaret-style atmosphere that’s family-friendly and runs 90 minutes,” said Handy. “There’s an idea of familiarity about it but there’s also a sense of the unexpected, allowing the audience to enjoy the holidays a little differently. It’s also fun for Philip, Deron and I to come together and challenge our creativity as well.”

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Adhering to the free-flowing nature of cabaret, Handy says there is an element of improv in the show that keeps the evening inviting yet unpredictable. The production also encourages audience requests.

“Cabaret doesn’t feel too formal so you don’t want it to have strict parameters,” she said. “We want to have some flexibility here and there, which is why we built in requests. We want to keep this show unique every night.”

“Unlike other shows that were written by somebody else, this show was written by us and the camaraderie we have on stage is really unique,” echoed Drennen. “It’s also rare to be able to go to a show and kind of curate it yourself. This show heavily relies on our audience. You can request a song and chances are we’re probably going to sing it.”

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Bell, a music educator who also serves as music director for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, regards the audience requests as a huge draw distinguishing the production from other holiday offerings.

“Everybody is pretty much familiar with all the holiday songs, but the exciting, positive spirit that comes from the audience requests builds a sense of community,” said Bell. “We might do ‘Jingle Bells’ with a Motown sound or ‘Rudoph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ with a rock and roll twist. As music director for DCDC, I have to be able to play all styles. So I don’t have a favorite style. Whether it’s country, folk, R&B or hip-hop, it’s all exciting to me because I love diversity.”

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Bell also says this year’s presentation promises more fun and surprises.

“Last year was a real treat but this year we are taking it to the next level,” he said. “We’re coming back with some musical arrangements that even I didn’t see coming. Not only is this a fun show but each set is different. This show stems from a creative place that’s musically, vocally and seasonally in a festive space. We provide an up-close and personal experience suitable for all ages.”

“And we’re all locals,” added Drennen. “There’s so much amazing talent here in Dayton.”

HOW TO GO

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

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

When: Dec. 8-11; Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $25 for adults and $10 for students

Tickets or more info: Call 937-228-3630 or visit daytonlive.org

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