By ALAN SMASON, WYES-TV Theatre Critic (“Steppin’ Out“)
The Big Easy Boys, the inspiration of Rich Arnold, have returned to New Orleans and the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts just in time for Christmas. This time they are laden with a sleigh full of holiday songs to be given out by them with their unique multi-part and harmonious interpretations.
Arnold, who acts as director, musical director and arranger, also stars as one of the quartet members along with Alec Barnes, Jonathan Drury, Marc Fouchi and Michael Taravella. (One of the five core members cycles off each show.)
Also joining the guys are the Big Easy Babes, who, likewise, have one of their troupe cycle off each show. The Babes are Marie Becnel, AshleyRose Bailey, Emily Heck and Hannah Rachal.
Many of the selections for the show are based on popular song arrangements of Christmas classics like the Drifters’ version of “White Christmas” mixed with several secular selections like Dion and Belmonts’ “I Wonder Why.”
The best part of the show is when the Big Easy Boys and Babes are singing selections together. They may not be singing the same songs, but the blend of two separate songs arranged by Arnold can be most especially thrilling when it is done live and in perfect harmony.
The show features a good number of comedy bits like the story of Al Copeland’s Christmas lights in Jefferson parish (humorously penned by Fouchi) and a wonderfully arranged “12 Days of Christmas” that is literally mixed up and topsy turvy.
Some rarely performed gems like “Turkey Lurkey Christmas” from Bacharach and David’s “Promises, Promises” and the Markeys’ “Santa Done Got Hip” are also surprises from the cornucopia of Christmas chorales the Big Easy Boys and Babes perform.
Lighting by Stephen Thurber is very effective, most especially a programmable sign that flashes, changes colors and features several patterns with the title of the show “Let It Snow.”
The presence of a live band conducted by Ainsley Matich from her keyboards is just what this show needs and in order to drive it. The six pieces are composed of Brian Albus, Fritz Barrau, Adam Colbenson, Clay Downham, Steven Schwartz and Jimmy Williams.
Also a well-rehearsed children’s chorus accentuates several of the pieces and helps to add some festive joy to the seven main performers on stage.
Let It Snow starring the Big Easy Boys and Babes finishes its run this weekend at the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts, 321 Main Street in Kenner, LA. Limited tickets are available by calling 504-461-9475 or click here.