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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Knights on Broadway NYC Christmas show savory

The St. Norbert College show troupe visits the Big Apple in song.

PHOTO: The 2013 edition of the St. Norbert College show troupe Knights on Broadway. St. Norbert College photo

DE PERE, Wis., (WFRV) – The reputation of Knights on Broadway is such that performances of “Christmas with the Knights 2013” are sold out.

The bright St. Norbert College show troupe has two more dinner performances through Saturday, Dec. 21, in Hendrickson Dining Room of the F.K. Bemis International Center on campus.

The show imagines a trip to New York City with visits to major attractions through song. It’s a smartly put together production (4½ stars out of 5), and in keeping with the quality associated with the Knights on Broadway name.

Performers

Madeline Baretta, Green Bay; Everette Berchmans, Green Bay; Zephyr Ciesar, Fish Creek; Akeem Edmonds, Chicago; Brian Falk, Belgium; Tanner Lundquist, Sister Bay; Lauren Pavlik, Green Bay; Kathryn Sauter, Appleton; Sadie Smith, Peru, Ill.; Logan Thomas, Baileys Harbor

Key credits

Kent Paulsen, director, pianist; Emily Paulsen, Aaron Reynolds, Kent Paulsen, choreography; Alex Sudbrink, audio and lights

Program sampler

Rockefeller Center

   “Silver Bells”

   “O Christmas Tree”

   “Rockin’ Around Christmas Tree”

Radio City Music Hall

   Songs of Faith Hill, Josh Groban, Maria Carey

   “March of the Toy Soldiers”

Central Park

   “Sleigh Ride”

Broadway and Times Square

   “White Christmas”

   “Blue Skies”

   “Mama Mia” and “Dancing Queen” from “Mama Mia”

Madison Square Garden

   “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

   “My Grown Up Christmas Wish”

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

   “O Holy Night”

   “Night of Silence”

   “Silent Night”

The structure of the show is solid, with sections nicely fitting song themes. The section set at St. Patrick’s Cathedral is especially suited for reverence in a Christmas production at a religious-based institution.

The Madison Square Garden section includes appealing contemporary songs, like the story song “I Shall Return for You My Love on Christmas Day” featuring Sadie Smith,  “Please Just Fall in Love with Me This Christmas” featuring Logan Thomas and “When My Heart Finds Christmas” featuring Tanner Lundquist.

Movement is a breeze with wireless microphones, with the sound quality enhancing the delivery of songs. The troupe looks good, too, with the women wearing black dresses in the first act and turquoise in the second and the men in tuxes, including a color match of their ties to the women’s turquoise dresses in the second half.

Director Kent Paulsen does a yeoman’s job supporting the singers on piano. He’s quite the musician and show producer.

Individual talent is showcased, most notably in a Trans Siberian Orchestra rush of piano and electronic keyboard playing by Tanner Lundquist and Kent Paulsen. Invigorating.

Speaking of invigorating, Zephyr Ciesar applies her rock-gospel voice to open the finale, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” with the rest of the troupe joining for the burst of exuberant song and dance that brought the audience to its feet on opening night.

VENUE: Seating at round tables is for approximately 100 in the Hendrickson Dining Room on the second level of St. Norbert College’s F.K. Bemis International Center. The room includes white walls, angular window areas, a heavy beam ceiling and burgundy and cream floral carpeting. The performers entertain on a stage about 15 inches above the floor. The meal is served by a formally attired wait staff. Even though not built with performances necessarily in mind, today’s wireless microphone schemes make the space workable.

THE NAMES: The Hendrickson Dining Room refers to community leaders and benefactors Philip and Betsy Hendrickson. Philip Hendrickson was president, CEO and chairman of the board of Krueger Metal Products (now KI). The Hendrickson Professorship for Business recognizes St. Norbert faculty who help students understand the positive role of business and the importance of business ethics. The Bemis center was built in 2001, with major funding from the Bemis Company Foundation. The packaging company dates to 1858.

You may email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV at 6:45 p.m. Thursdays and every other Sunday between 6 and 8 a.m. (usually around 7:45 a.m.)

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