We've all experienced our fair share of holiday pageants....mediocre productions from the local high school, church, or playhouse. They're pretty much the same, with middling performances, stilted dialogue, cheap sets, bargain-basement costumes, and the same old songs. But what would happen if a highly-respected producer put up his own finances to gather Broadway-level talent for a Christmas production at a renowned Vegas resort? Well, you'd have THIS IS CHRISTMAS, a magnificent new show at Venetian/Palazzo Hotel Casino.
THIS IS CHRISTMAS combines the class and splendor of Wynn's SHOWSTOPPERS with the modern sensibilities of Palazzo's own BAZ - STAR CROSSED LOVE. It features alumni from both of those shows with audience favorites from America's Got Talent and local Vegas standouts. The result is a fast-moving cavalcade of mirth that dazzles the senses, touches the heart, and will send you into the lobby with a skip in your step.
THIS IS CHRISTMAS performs at the Palazzo Theater, once home to the afore-mentioned BAZ. Previously custom-fitted for that unique dazzler, the auditorium has been restored to its original seating capacity. A live orchestra and lush decorations are enhanced by whimsical video backdrops and falling "snow". But the real stars of THIS IS CHRISTMAS are the cast, choreography, and vocals. They take this endeavor higher than anyone might reasonably expect from a seasonal offering.
Randal Keith (center) and the cast of THIS IS CHRISTMAS
The cast of THIS IS CHRISTMAS is uniformly flawless, with each at peak of their profession. They're anchored by Broadway veteran Randal Keith (Phantom - The Vegas Spectacular, Les Miserables, Showstoppers), who dons a Santa suit for the opening number, portrays New York Sun editor Francis Church, and has the time of his life as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Sarah and Alejandro Domingo
Alejandro and Sarah Le Clear-Domingo (read their profile here) continue to thrill and amaze with their dance skills and choreography. The real-life couple served as dance captains for Vegas! The Show and most recently at BAZ. Sarah is excited about returning to their former home theater for the holidays:
"We are definitely relishing every moment on and off stage with our colleagues. And yes to being in that theatre again! Can’t explain how grateful Ale and I are to both be assistant choreographers AND get to perform."
Jasmine Trias and Ben Stone
Ben Stone/Jasmine Trias - The Prayer THIS IS CHRISTMAS
Liverpool native Ben Stone and Hawaii's own Jasmine Trias (American Idol) do an amusing role-reversal take on "Baby, It's Cold Outside" then bring the house down with their signature number "The Prayer". Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo (both from American Idol) add a little southern flavor with a medley of country Christmas classics.
Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young
Powerful vocalist Laura Wright has seemingly been on every Vegas stage. From JUBILEE! to FANTASY, Vegas! The Show to local supergroup The Moonshiners, Ms. Wright totally energizes the stage. Not to be outdone, Lou Gazzara raises the rafters with "Oh, Holy Night", then joins forces with Laura for "Christmas In Las Vegas".
Laura Wright and Lou Gazzara
In a cast this uniformly stunning, it may be unfair to single out any one member, but Jaclyn McSpadden gets the top spot in this review. Her powerful performance in BAZ (yes, that again) led to a star-making turn in Postmodern Jukebox. Every moment that she was onstage for the opening night of THIS IS CHRISTMAS left this writer breathless. Slinky, sultry, gorgeous, and gifted, Ms. McSpadden truly is the 'Next Big Thing'.
Jaclyn McSpadden "Joy to the World" - THIS IS CHRISTMAS
Helming the impressive production is director Blair Farrington, whose MJ: The Evolution recently debuted at Mosaic Theater. Farrington has worked for celebs like Celine Dion, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, Tony Bennett, Donny and Marie Osmond, and Wayne Newton. It should come as no surprise that he was also instrumental behind the scenes at BAZ.
Producer Pat Caddick has more than three decades of experience in Vegas entertainment, collaborating with powerhouses like Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Siegfried and Roy, Wayne Newton, The Pointer Sisters, and Melissa Etheridge. He and Farrington have packed THIS IS CHRISTMAS with delightful vignettes, memorable ensemble pieces, and this dazzling dance number by the Domingos:
Sarah Le Clear/Alejandro Domingo in THIS IS CHRISTMAS
Previously slated for a sadly-canceled run during the 2020 holiday season (yes, that COVID culprit) THIS IS CHRISTMAS finally gets to see the light of day. One can expect this epic production to become a Venetian/Palazzo tradition. After only one weekend, it is a resounding success and tickets are selling fast. Get yours before they're all gone, and share the joy of the season with one of the best casts currently on the Strip.
THIS IS CHRISTMAS performs Thursday through Sunday at 7 pm at Palazzo Theater, with 3 pm matinees on select dates. Tickets start at $84 (plus taxes/fees). Click here for more information. The show runs through December 26th.
Photos by Sam Novak/Palazzo Resort