Monday, December 1

Theater Review: Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre: A Beef and Boards Christmas 2014

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Indianapolis, closes the season with its annual holiday variety production, A Beef and Boards Christmas 2014.

It's interesting to watch the changes in the holiday show over the years. The first I attended was my first year reviewing (2007), which is available only in the original newspapers. However, I have included the links to a few I have published in newspapers and posted online over my tenure.

Click here for 2009 review

Some years there are children on stage, others (such as this year) it is a whirlwind of adults-only dancers and singers mixing it up with The Grinch, Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman.

And the flying reindeer.

So, this time I thought I would give my hits and misses list.

HITS
Indy's own co-host favorites ~ Deb Wims and Kenny Shepard ~ took the reigns once more for this production. Guiding the audience through a myriad of holiday staples, dancing characters and choral groups, the show would not be the same without this attractive and charming pair.

New to the Christmas cast is Heather Patterson-King, who portrayed Mrs. Banks in B&B's Mary Poppins. Patterson-King's vocals were a beautiful addition to each song and highlighted best in "Tennessee Christmas." A most welcome talent who this critic hopes to see (and hear) more of in the 2015 schedule. She is the best thing to be added to the holiday show in quite some time.

Click here for 2013 review

B&B's tradition of saluting the military serving our country always brings me to the edge of welling up. "I'll be Home for Christmas," performed superbly by Matt Branic is full of pride and respect. Here's to the continued practice.

Intermission with Santa Claus is an absolute keeper for me. Although I have no young ones dashing about, the free pictures with the jolly elf gives back to the audience and gives the kids something special.

MISSES
Not casting John Vessels is a big miss in my book. His zany antics bring the audience to tears every time he hits the stage. This year's fun segments seemed less so without this favorite of Indy theatergoers. Watching him plop about during his (see link for review below) rendition of, "All I Want for Christmas," still makes me laugh out loud.

Click here for 2011 review

Seeing children perform on stage gives children in the audience the crazy idea that they, also, can get up there and perform. Not a bad thing. It also holds their attention better than one adult after another. So, I would call it a miss to eliminate the kid factor this year.

I cannot see "Marshmallow World," performed by Shepard and Wims enough. Left out this year, the performers dress as Raggedy Andy and Raggedy Ann for an adorable segment of great music and dancing.

Bottom Line: A Beef and Boards Christmas 2014 offers a family friendly holiday show with song and dance for every age.

Images: JulieCurryPhotography.com

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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