“Seasons Greetings,” a live musical cabaret at the PNC Arts Annex offers a vast mix of vacation favorites to enjoy. Beautiful voices mixed with a talented group, in a unique and different setting, make for a splendid evening with that special someone, a group of friends or even both.
The singing duo, Gina Handy and Philip Drennen are spirited hosts with bundles of holiday cheer to share. Their chemistry and their voices are both perfect. Handy’s voice is as clear as a melting ice cube. Although Handy radiates heat, I still get chills from his moving rendition of “Santa Baby”. Handy’s closet has as much range as her voice, as she’s changed her wardrobe three times, including a sparkling evening gown. While singing from ‘Rudolph’ to ‘Joy to the World.’
Drennen’s voice is as sweet as a new layer of snow. His vocal styles were reminiscent of Michael Buble. Similar to how garlands accentuate crowns, Drennen adds extra beauty to every song he touches, like “The Christmas Song” and “Sleigh Ride”.
The instrumentals provided by Deron Bell and his group of brothers were just as talented as the vocalists. If Drennen is a garland, then the band equates to the Griswald lights display as they make every song even more radiant. They cover all genres, from funk and Motown to blues and jazz.
A strong point of “Seasons Greetings” is its variety, with holiday classics, childhood favorites and a few lesser-known songs. Its unpredictability is another strength, because no two shows are exactly alike. The very big fans (or maybe their loved ones) could attend each night and hear mostly different songs. In the second act, song requests and Christmas greetings are extracted from the audience. It requires all musicians to be on their toes and they have succeeded brilliantly, despite some difficult challenges. With such a variety of songs to choose from, you really never know which songs will be in demand. Variety is no better defined than a holiday rendition of “No Diggity” and a “Nutcracker Funkadelic”. Which were sandwiched between “Silent Night” and an awakened version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. All of them were played with the same level of quality as if they had been repeated for months.
I had never attended anything at the PNC Arts Annex and it is the perfect venue for such an event. The setting is intimate, with the possibility of sitting at a table or risers. I felt like I was watching a Christmas TV special being taped, or I guess more appropriately a cabaret. It was also my first cabaret, but I hope not the last.
Treat yourself to a magical night of beloved Christmas music and, if you’re lucky, a Debbie Gibson story or maybe a Funkadelic Jingle Bells. The remaining performances are December 15, 16 and 19 at 7:30 p.m.
© 2021 Dayton Local. Unauthorized use and / or duplication of this material without the express written permission of Dayton Local is strictly prohibited. Snippets and links may be used, provided full and clear credit is given to Dayton Local with proper and specific orientation to the original content.