In the spirit of everyone’s favorite Christmas author (besides Dr. Seuss), Charles Dickens, here’s a tale of two cities … or two theaters.
The theater scenes in both Lancaster and Harrisburg celebrated opening nights last week, and I was lucky enough to score tickets for both shows.
Piano Men – PriMA Theatre, Lancaster
PRiMA Theatre kicked off its newest show, Piano Men on Dec. 6. Not only was the evening opening night for the show, it also was opening night for PRiMA’s new theatre.
PRiMa was a self-described “nomadic theatre,” looking for a place to truly call home for years. The company finally found the perfect spot right on the cusp of downtown Lancaster, and the space is the perfect fit for its culture and identity.
PRiMA prides itself on providing a unique theater experience and the theatre was built to give audiences an intimate and engaging experience, including a versatile stage that can be set up in a variety of ways to best suit each show. I LOVED the interactive atmosphere of First Date, and I’m excited to see what else is in store for this new era of PRiMA. The night was truly a celebration of the theatre’s journey to lay down permanent roots and they picked a perfect show to christen their new home.
Piano Men is all things energetic, exciting and entertaining. It’s not a musical, but rather a musical show featuring hits from the most famous piano men themselves: Billy Joel, Elton John, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder. The small quartet of singers (and band) put their own spin on the beloved favorites including “Benny and the Jets,” “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Hit the Road Jack,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” for a show full of soul, sass, and spirit. I found it hard to sit still and not bop around during the “concert” — and I noticed the rest of the audience reacted the same way, too.
Piano Men runs through Dec. 15, and PRiMA’s new season starts up in February 2019.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) – Gamut Theatre, Harrisburg
Gamut opened their holiday show “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” on Dec. 7.
This was also opening night for me in a way because I’d never been to a Gamut production before. I think this was the perfect show to start with because the performance style made the actors absolutely shine.
“Every Christmas Story Ever Told” is just that: every Christmas (and holiday) story ever told. The show covers classic stories holiday stories like “A Christmas Carol,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” (well, it’s a slightly off-kilter version of Rudolph), “The Grinch,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and highlights different religions and holiday traditions from across the world — all with a comedic twist.
It’s quick and witty, and the three-person cast manages to fit the holiday season and spirit into two hours without missing a beat. It’s like an oversized SNL skit that will have you laughing the entire time.
The production runs through Dec. 23, with shows Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30. I suggest getting to the theatre a little early if you’re attending an evening show to enjoy pre-show “Cabaret Carols” in the lobby. It’s a nice extra holiday treat to kick off the show!