Want to hit the town, Christmas-style? Try ‘Holiday Gem’

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By Angela Hatcher

There is no better way to kick-start the holiday season than with a good old-fashioned musical review, and One More Productions’ dazzling third annual "Holiday Gem" is delighting theatergoers of all ages.

With its lively cast, colorful costumes, elaborate snow-peaked village setting, live musicians, and first-rate entertainment, Nicole Cassesso and Damien Lorton’s family-friendly original production is fast becoming a favorite holiday tradition.

By Angela Hatcher

There is no better way to kick-start the holiday season than with a good old-fashioned musical review, and One More Productions’ dazzling third annual "Holiday Gem" is delighting theatergoers of all ages.

With its lively cast, colorful costumes, elaborate snow-peaked village setting, live musicians, and first-rate entertainment, Nicole Cassesso and Damien Lorton’s family-friendly original production is fast becoming a favorite holiday tradition.

Located on Garden Grove’s Historic Main Street, the intimate Gem Theatre is decked out in its grandest holiday finery, the sights and sounds of Christmas infuse the air, and this holiday “jewel” brings smiles to even the grumpiest of characters.

Whether it’s traditional or whimsical, OMP’s Holiday Gem has something for everyone. As the show begins, older sister Holly (Sophia Scarsi) is struggling to rediscover her Christmas cheer, and along with younger sister, Hope (Shayna Gayer), the girls are also missing Grandma (Beth Hansen).

Since moving to sunny California, Holly has lost the seasonal joy she once knew. Ernie (John Gillies), the overgrown elf, has come to the girls’ rescue, and in their travels together, the trio sets out to rediscover the joy of Christmas.

Ernie tells the girls that without believing, “… the presents get worse.”

“How much worse?” asks the adorable Hope.

When Ernie replies,”Sweaters-from-grandma worse,” wide-eyed Hope shudders in horror! Along the way, there is a peek inside Santa’s busy workshop, and some of the special musical highlights include: James Pettit, Tad Fujioka, and Brandon Taylor Jones’ “The Christmas Song”; Holly, Hope and the Elves’ crowd-pleasing medley “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas/Two Front Teeth/I Saw Mommy”; Woody’s (Tad Fujioka) “Dear Mr. Santa”; and Mrs. Claus (Jade Taylor) and The Company’s energetic “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

Act II offers traditional caroling, an audience sing-a-long, a gorgeous ballroom scene and a big send-off with a full company chorus line loaded with tap-dancing Santas!

There are delicious treats in the lobby, and during the matinee performances, there is a Santa and his elves “meet and greet” for the kids.

Oddly enough, it took many years to convince OMP’s co-founder, Damien Lorton, to agree to launch a holiday show. For all outward appearances, Lorton became known as the “Grinch” of Christmas cheer, but few knew the real story: as a young boy, Lorton suffered a staggering family loss on Christmas Day, and from that moment on, the joy of the season was gone for him, and in its place, an empty heart. None of the urging or prodding could get Lorton to budge, until, one day, his beloved theatre family pleaded with him to celebrate the season by putting on a fun-filled holiday show for all to enjoy.

Lorton finally gave in, and with his business partner, Nicole Cassesso, they created the heartfelt Holiday Gem.

When it was completed, Lorton also rediscovered the true meaning of Christmas.

While OMP’s holiday reviewis a special production for all to enjoy, The Holiday Gem will always be a Christmas card to Lorton’s mom.

"Holiday Gem"

The Gem Theatre

12852 Main St., Garden Grove

For tickets: 714-741-9550, ext 221.

Runs through Dec. 21