Arts & Culture

‘Jingle Bell Rock’ brings festive song and dance to the Clark Center

Three male and three female singers perform with a live band in ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’
Three male and three female singers perform with a live band in ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ COURTESY OF THE CLARK CENTER

‘Jingle Bell Rock — A Raucous Holiday Revue” is described as high-energy, fast-moving and fun by three enthusiastic members of the company. Andy Ferrera, producer and director of the show, and performers Alli Navarro and Jeff Payton talked about their experiences during a telephone interview.

“As ‘Saturday Night Live’ is a little bit of music with a lot of comedy, ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is a lot of music with a little bit of comedy,” Ferrara said.

A live band accompanies three men and three women singers and dancers, and Frank Macial, an improv actor, facilitates audience interaction in a program that includes an array of more than 30 holiday songs from carols to contemporary tunes. The show also includes a two-minute send-up of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and an audience-participation version of “A Christmas Carol.” The interaction is an important part of the program, Ferrara said.

“Frank has the audience in the palm of his hand.”

Navarro, who sings and dances, said there is something for every age group in the show. With a four-piece band (drum, bass, guitar and piano), the ensemble sings such classic favorites as “White Christmas” and “Silent Night,” as well as more modern songs like “All I Want for Christmas” and “It’s Christmas Time Again,” she said. There are also some rockers like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

“One of the favorite segments for kids is a medley of theme songs from Christmas specials like ‘Peanuts,’ ‘The Chipmunks,’ and the Grinch. There’s also a Santa surprise.”

And for the tweens and teens, the cast, from early 20s to 35, has “cute boys.”

“It’s a holiday show for the whole family.”

Navarro said she has enjoyed traveling with the show from coast to coast and performing for different types of audiences.

Payton, who has been in “Jingle Bell Rock” for two seasons, said he likes the show’s fast pace and “high energy, youthful fun.”

“It has some of the best contemporary songs” like ‘Run, Run Rudolph,’ and ‘Blue Christmas.’ I play the Grinch on stage,” he said. “Frank goes into the audience and asks people what their favorite Christmas songs are, then gives them a mike and has them sing the song along with us.”

One of the things he likes best about being in the ensemble is the camaraderie with the cast on stage. “It’s a fun, supportive relationship.”

Payton appreciates working with Ferrara and his company, Plan-B Entertainment.

“Andy is a good director because he has been a performer and he understands artists. He’s able to bring out the best in a performer, so the audience can connect.”

Plan-B is a creative company, Ferrara explained, often building a new show from scratch.

“When a theater wants to do a certain show, they come to us.”

He produces and directs. “We do everything from standard musicals to creating new things.”

Some members of the “Jingle Bell Rock” cast have been with it repeatedly during its four-year history.

“You get people you enjoy working with and who enjoy working with you.”