Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Despite a few hiccups during previews (which I have heard from a most reliable source) and quite a bit of tweaking from when this show was first staged in Chicago last year (this was told to me by one of the American financial backers I struck a conversation with), DEE SNIDER’S ROCK & ROLL CHRISTMAS TALE opened successfully without a hitch to an appreciative audience at the historic Winter Gardens Theatre where it will play until January 3rd.
Dee Snider, lead singer of Twisted Sister and who wrote the lyrics, music and book for the show, plays the Narrator and takes the audience on a journey about a heavy metal band called Daisy Cuter (pronounced “Cutter” because, as everyone knows, “there’s no spelling in metal”). The band has been performing music for over 20 years and despite their big hair and way too tight spandex outfits, they never made it big. Now playing in a bar owned by Roxanne (played with gusto and vocal pyrotechnics by the multi-talented Taylor Dayne) to a paying audience of zero, the band is told that if they don’t sell out the bar by Christmas Eve, their gig is up…permanently. In order to succeed and to draw the crowds away from the bar upstairs that plays electronic dance music to a huge throng of partygoers, the band draws up a contract with Satan and sign it with their blood. The next thing you know is that traditional Christmas songs sneak into the band’s repertoire and they slowly develop a strong following, much to the chagrin of Daisy Cuter’s lead singer, D.D. Snutz.
It is impossible NOT to like DEE SNIDER’S ROCK & ROLL CHRISTMAS TALE and I had a silly grin affixed to my face throughout its tight 95 minutes running time. The gags are fast and furious with nary a groaner thrown into the mix. Dee Snider has genuine stage charisma and whereas he never had, or will have, a memorable singing voice, the growl and power he had in the classic we all grew up with, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is still there, full throttle. To steal an old chestnut cliché, Taylor Dayne can stand on astage and sing the phonebook and I will automatically get goosebumps. The girl has pipes and even though I would have preferred to see more of her and her character in the show, she smoulders and rocks. The actors-slash-musicians who make up Daisy Cuter (which includes Sean Kelly, playing Johnny, who is currently Nelly Furtado’s lead guitarist) excel. High fives must go to Peter Deiwick, as D.D.Snutz, who elevates the role of a lead singer in a “hair band” to comedic heights. It’s an eloquent performance that nicely captures the feyness and swagger. Kudos must also be given to Spencer Robson as the band’s drummer, the sweet, naïve and love struck Ralph, who has a monster crush on Roxanne. Robson singing “The Price” with a stuffed toy reindeer is, alone, worth the admission to see the show.
DEE SNIDER’S ROCK & ROLL CHRISTMAS TALE is NOT a holiday cash grab. It’s entertaining, loud, spirited, sweet natured and, as much as I hate to write this, fun for the whole family! Head off to the Winter Garden Theatre. Yule be glad you did!!!
(Photo credit: George Kozera)
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