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Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

A Broadway Holiday Show
New Paradigm Theatre

Also see Fred's review of Picasso at the Lapin Agile

On December 10th I had the great pleasure of seeing A Broadway Holiday Show presented by the The New Paradigm Theatre at Fairfield Theatre Company's Stage One Theatre. The New Paradigm Theatre is a newly established non-profit professional theatre organization led by Executive and Artistic Director Kristin Huffman, who was among the performers in the holiday show. The evening was a delight. Combining a mixture of Broadway performers, the Fairfield County Children's Choir, and Miss Connecticut 2014 winner Acacia Courtney, and hosted by celebrity chef Neil Fuentes, the evening was an eclectic combination of holiday songs and Broadway tunes that proved to be a joyous occasion, bringing holiday cheer to the audience and everyone involved.

Broadway performers Charissa Bertels (A Christmas Story The Musical), Jose Luaces (A Christmas Story The Musical Kristin Huffman (Company) were featured, along with New York singer/pianist Kenneth Gartman. They worked wonderfully well as a group, led by the expert musical direction by David Maiocco, and they each had individual moments to shine. Kenneth Gartman lent his beautiful voice to "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" and was entirely charming. The talented Jose Luaces dueted wonderfully with young performer Lina Schoenwiesner in "Baby It's Cold Outside" before displaying his gifts as a dancer during the instrumental "Christmas Time Is Here."

And if the two men were a pleasure, the two Broadway women were entirely glorious. Kristin Huffman delivered a lovely "Sleigh Ride" and she led the Fairfield County Children's Choir in a heartwarming "Do You Hear What I Hear?" Kristin also got the chance to act as Mrs. Claus (with her team of adorable "Fosse" elves), giving various Broadway and popular songs a Christmas twist. As for Charissa Bertels, she rocked the house with both a medley of Chanukah songs and, especially, the driving "My Simple Christmas Wish," which she belted to the heavens. The four performers also did some great singing together as a group, particularly on the first two selections, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas/Pinecones and Holly Berries" and "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

There were a lot of other highlights during the evening. Acacia Courtney performed a splendid ballet sequence to the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from The Nutcracker and Broadway producer Paul Bogeav made a surprise appearance, reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Acting as the official host of the evening, celebrity chef Neil Fuentes added zest to the event, especially in a spirited "I'm Your Chef" (to the tune of "Be Our Guest") and leading a festive "Felix Navidad." Finally, one of the biggest ovations was given to young Shay Lynn LaRusso and the pint-sized Gaby Richer, who proved to be scene stealers in a terrific "I Wanna Be a Rockette."

All in all, The New Paradigm Theatre's A Broadway Holiday Show was the perfect event to get the audience into the spirit of the holidays, closing with sing-a-long renditions of "We Need a Little Christmas" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." The entire show was pure enjoyment; let's hope it will become a yearly event.

For more information about The New Paradigm Theatre, please visit their website at or call 646-342-3200.

- Zander Opper

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