THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20 through SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and the big jolly man himself reunite with the spectacular Rubicon Family Christmas cast for a joyous celebration at the Ventura College Theatre for seven performances only. The stellar cast includes Joan Almedilla, Teri Bibb, Dina Bennett, Trey Ellett, Anthony Manough and Brian Sutherland who have starred on Broadway in such shows as Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Jesus Christ Superstar, Miss Saigon, 1776 and Rent, among others. They are joined by an ensemble of talented young artists from the region: Daniel Brackett, Cassidy Craig, and Sarah Mehrnia from Ventura; Madeline Gambon from Camarillo; and Jessie Graham and Gus Graham from Santa Paula. This year's concert will also have a few new surprises, including a 60 member children's choir under the direction of concert pianist Miriam Arichea. Glorious renditions of holiday carols and contemporary songs-of-the-season will be performed in styles including classical, pop, jazz and gospel. The result is an hour and a half of the best-performed holiday music you're likely to hear all season. Anyone in search of an instant dose of Christmas spirit need look no further than A Rubicon Family Christmas Concert, the best and brightest live "Holiday Special" in town.
Reviewer Rita Moran of the Ventura County Star described A Rubicon Family Christmas as "A tuneful stocking stuffer…a holiday revue packed with musical cheer." She noted, "There's something for everyone in A Rubicon Family Christmas, including a message of hope and a longing for peace that may soothe a lot of souls for the holiday season." In praise of the individual artists, Moran remarked on "Brian Sutherland's warm baritone in such treasures as 'Oh, Holy Night!' after first proving he can rock like The King in a swiveling Elvis echo"…Teri Bibb's "crystalline voice to a moving 'Ave Maria'" and "charismatic" Anthony Manough's "creative riffs" and "wide-ranging voice."
Critic Steven Stanley of LA Stage Scene hailed 2009's rendition as "the best and brightest live 'Holiday Special' in town… an hour-and-a-half of the best performed holiday songs you're likely to hear all Christmas season," and cited the "splendid performances" and "marvelous music." Wrote Stanley, "The Rubicon is THE place to go for music of the season, especially as performed by six of the finest musical theatre talents the Southland has to offer. And what a cast it is!"
Ross Olney of The Breeze wrote that the production was "A Christmas show not to be missed!"
"You may come in as a Scrooge," commented Olney, "but you'll go out filled with the spirit of Christmas Present as each of the six Broadway and film singers, dancers and actors gets a chance to hold the spotlight while the other five fill the background with marvelous music. Until the stirring 'Ave Maria' by Teri Bibb (it probably rang out up and down Ventura's Main Street) brought tears to the eyes of the enthralled hushed audience, it was roaring laughter and loud cheering all the way. The cast entertained from the rousing opening medley to the rousing closing number."
A RUBICON FAMILY CHRISTMAS CONCERT runs Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. All performances are at the newly renovated Ventura College Theatre located at 4700 Loma Vista Road, Ventura, CA 93003. Tickets are $45 for adults, $35 for Rubicon subscribers, and $20 for children 12 and under. They are available through the Rubicon Box Office at 805.667.2900 or online at www.rubicontheatre.org.