Walking into the cabaret space at the Arts Bank at University Of The Arts, the audience is welcomed into “the Cradle”—a 1950s inspired jazz nightclub. Salad is served. The emcee (Aaron Bell) gives us a lively introduction number and leads us into the action with a brilliant arrangement of “Shake It Off”. He tells us that the leading lady act of the night, Tamela Heartfelt (Elexis Morton), is leaving mid-way through the show to depart for the holidays. Morton and the other ladies of the cast (Katie Markey and Analisa Wall) bring down the house with a great interpretation of the once annoying song “Anaconda” and the night continues with one showstopper after another of modern songs with a exciting and passionate jazz flair. It is hard to believe this is not a true nightclub.
A plot develops: All flights have been canceled due to inclement weather and we are stuck in the club. Tamela Heartfelt will not be able to go home for the holidays. At intermission the club is transformed for the holiday season and the audience settles down to some delicious pasta and just in time for the second act.
Aaron Bell’s voice is wonderfully entertaining and flawless in his tenor range. Elexis Morton gives a soaring heartfelt performance as Tamela Heartfelt. Katie Markey and Analisa Wall know how to entertain a crowd,and it is clear they are having a blast. Because of this, the audience loves each and every number.
Direction by Darius J. Manuel is brilliant. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS makes you wish “ The Cradle” was a true nightclub so that you may attend every night of the week. Musical director Brad Frey leads the band with confidence. With mesmerizing arrangements by Frey and Manuel; HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is the sweetest holiday treat in Philadelphia. [Arts Bank Cabaret, 601 S. Broad St.] December 2-December 3; blendtheatrics.weebly.com