Friday, December 13, 2013

Review: All Ye Faithful!!

Have faith, all ye Monkeefans out there!!  Britton Payne has done it again with his loving tribute/live theater concept called "Here We Come . . . All Ye Faithful".  All your favorite characters and actors return to bring more Monkee merriment to the C.O.W. theater on the Lower East Side.

Yours truly, Tammy Rose, with Gretchen Poole in her Micky Monkee garb (circa 2nd Season)

It's The Boys again and their old trope & plot points, trying to get money to pay the rent and going through wacky adventures to do so.  This time, in addition to including being caught between feuding families and enduring a cross dressing battle of the bands, they get stuck taking care of Melvin and trying to bring the Christmas spirit to the world.

Davy is played enthusiastically by Timothy Charles Browne, who is a knockout in fishnets and velvet. Dana Angelo plays Mike the Explainer, and with additional co-writing and costume duty, she deserves incredible applause for attention to detail.  Shandi Sullivan brings in Peter's delightful bewilderment; in a twist that gives her performance a layer of deeper meaning, she knows what it is to be a young innocent in the spotlight.  She was on America's Next Top Model, how's THAT for research?  And while we loved Lauren Sonnen as Micky (who is somewhere in the Cayman Islands now), MUCH LOVE and MAD PROPS go out to Gretchen Poole who gave a SOLID performance of "Goin' Down".  As in, a delivery that Micky Dolenz should be envious of.

Being an Xmas themed version, you might think that the show might get stuck in Episode #47, but somewhere in "New" Mexico it takes a wild detour.  And this is where some of the most clever and new stuff happens, showing off the versatility of the ensemble.  Instead of the Wild West, they wander into the territory of someone known only as "Chris" (Louie Vitiello) .  Things get bizarre as we watch the Monkee characters in a whole new turn; it's the Christmas Episode from the lost 3rd Season!!

Highlights of the show include Alice Delaney who plays Melvin (the Butch Patrick role) and is a delight from the moment she/he enters as a kid in a 3 button suit!  The attitude & personality are pitch perfect.  Adam Luke returns to play several roles, including Jerry "The Geater" Blavat. He steals the show, and from Davy, no less!! Veronica Osorio is chimerical as the white-haired Joy and later, the role that made Deana Martin famous.  They are backed up by David Boyd, Adrienne Rhodes and Erich Collins Carey, who exemplify the sheer joy of play by donning costumes and characters with gleeful abandon.

Another standout includes "Crazy Eyes Elf" played by Madison Comerzan, an actress whom I suspect added some fancy & excellent choreography in places.  When she pulled me up out of the audience during "Let's Dance On", she warned me about the "freeze" when the music stops in the middle of the song.  Ya gotta LOVE a show that cares enough NOT to humiliate its audience members!

For those of you who are really into the obscure songs, you'll love the full version of "Christmas is My Time of Year", released in 1976 under the band's name, but with only Dolenz & Jones.  If you've never heard it before, it's the production number in the show that sounds like it belongs on the Brady Brunch.

"Riu Chiu" is performed by battery-powered candlelight which brought me chills when the performers started.  My biggest fantasy is to have this performed at the Monkee Convention with everyone singing in 4 part harmony.  But even with the lyrics projected on a giant screen, it would be hard to outdo the original Monkee version.

An amazing evening, don't wait to see them perform at the Monkees Convention, just go as a Christmas present to yourself!

And hug the guy in the Green Hat wearing a headset.  He's the guy who brings the Monkees out of the TV set and into real life.

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