Impressions of J.R. Sullivan's Hometown Holiday, 2014

...when the three heavenly voices of Megan McDonough, Holland Zander and Marcella Rose Sciotto, together as one rose up from behind Miles Nielsen's, adding a rich layer of sonic texture, I truly believed, deep in my soul, the words they presented: “War is over....if you want it”...I felt it deep and my knees went weak. Pure hope washed through me like a waterfall and for that one moment, I felt peace on earth.

...when Linda Abronski re-enacted a letter of complaint that began: “Dear Mr. Schnucks...” the vote on the floor was unanimous: yes, people in Rural Oaks eat too, the robust applause in the room confirmed.

Danny Sullivan and Jeff Christian kept the story moving at a steady clip, fueling the momentum engine with bucketfuls of humor.

Marcella paid homage to the diva in us all with beauty, grace (and humor) when she belted operatically, “what ever happened to my part?”...and we the audience, paid our dues to the fans of the divas: we clapped and cheered with reckless abandon.

Shawn Wallace painted a touching, hopeful landscape with his tender rendition of the Commodores' classic, “Love Will Find A Way”; Megan sang mournfully about lost love: “I remember ...butter” and Randy Sabien, golly what a renaissance man! The string instrument does not exist that he can't woo...he seduces the notes, like a siren: luring them out to weave his musical tapestries – stunning and spellbinding and warm yet rowdy like a holiday feast.

...and then we smile, for J.R. Sullivan has moved his stool to center stage – the cue that we've been waiting for: the time in the show has come where we will be taken to another time, a familiar place...

The piano softens, the lights on the set cool and settle, comfortably focused on Jim's handsome face, (stage lights like Jim's face); he looks out at us, a sparkle in his eyes. As the smile spreads and takes command of Jim's presence, we are embraced, like dear friends...and away he takes us on his “Polar Express”, woven with words carefully chosen, punctuated by his perfect timing and graceful, sincere delivery...we settle in for the journey...

When the clock said 7:03 Sunday night and the thermometer outside read 45 degrees, I struck the match and lit my fire, home cozies donned. Josh is heating the big pot of chili – yum. Everybody is home. J.R. Sullivan's 19th Hometown Holiday is done.

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