Hey blog world! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, I know it’s late November, but Spirit of Newfoundland got into the spirit of Christmas last Thursday night! It was opening night of their brand new show “For Lease Navidad”! Along with it being the start to my Christmas season, this show was special to me for two additional reasons. #1, it was an early celebration of my 19th Birthday (I became a legal adult last Sunday! Yikes!) and also my 30th Spirit of Newfoundland show! As you can tell, I am addicted to Spirit of NL! It’s my happy place.
The second I stepped inside the building, my breath was taken away! I thought I had stepped into the North Pole! I was surrounded by beautiful Christmas trees, garlands and other decorations.
I brought my friend Kristen with me. She and I went to High School together and she’s one of my Special Olympics teammates (go Bright Stars!!!) She bowls and plays softball with me. She had never been to a show at Spirit before, but heard a lot about it from me (Spirit of Newfoundland is one of my special interests. I’m obsessed with it and talk about it constantly and can go on and on and on for hours about it!) and she has been dying to meet Peter, so I thought she would be the perfect guest to invite to my special pre-Birthday supper.
The meal that night was prepared by chef Alex Pierson. Before it even started, as always, there was a bread basket on our table. Spirit always has a basket of homemade sourdough bread at each table. It’s one of my favorite parts of the meal at Spirit! Last Thursday night, it was a little different. Alex put jellies and raisins inside of it, making it something like a fruitcake. I wasn’t fond of those additives and picked them out, but Kristen quite enjoyed them. She ate almost every piece of bread in our basket and then asked for another!
The appetizer was a butternut squash and sweet potato soup with caramelized apple. I’m not a sweet potato fan, but I gave the soup a try anyway. It was ok, but not something I’d eat again. 3/1o. Kristen shared the same sentiment. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good. I found it very peppery and the squash came through a lot more than the sweet potato and I didn’t like its taste.
The main course on the other hand was absolutely delicious! 10/10!!! Maple salmon with a caramelized onion reduction served with potatoes, turnip and chef’s selection of seasonal vegetables. The salmon was cooked perfectly, I didn’t even need my knife, it fell apart so easily. It was very light and flavorful. The maple sauce was the best part of it! It added a nice little touch of sweetness to the salmon. In my opinion, this was the best piece of salmon I’ve ever eaten!
Soon after eating, it was time for the show! I was honored to get to be one of the first to see “For Lease Navidad”! It’s set in the 1950’s at a place called Doreen’s diner. The opening number was lots of fun! Doreen’s three children Randy, (Keith Power), Betty (Janet Cull) and Johnny (Michael Power) sang “Jingle Bells” but did it in a 50’s way. It was really cool! I couldn’t help but dance to it in my seat! Then, they sang Doreen’s menu to the tune of Jingle Bells. Everything sounded so yummy! It made me hungry again!
At certain points in the middle of the song, the music would change to something dreamlike and the spotlight would shine down on one of the three kids. They told us what they’d rather be doing instead. Betty wants to be a hairstylist, Randy wants to invent things and Michael’s character wants to reno the diner and turn it into a rock n roll diner!
The costumes that they had on were awesome! I really felt like I was back in the 1960’s. Michael’s was the best, he was dressed up like a T-Bird from “Grease”! I really liked Janet’s vintage waitress outfit too.
Soon Peter burst through the door, all frazzled and disoriented. He’d been mugged and had a few bangs on the head and was bleeding. Poor darling. Doreen (Kara Noftle) took him in, sat him down and cleaned him up. She asked him his name and he said he didn’t know. She asked where he worked and why he was there and he didn’t know that either! He had amnesia. As she and her kids tried to figure out who he was, Doreen accidentally let slip that there were money problems with the diner and that lawyers were involved. Everyone was becoming very concerned with this. Doreen brushed it off like it was nothing and tried to keep what was left of her secret from the others.
Soon, Doreen took Mr. mystery man upstairs with her and they had a little talk. Doreen was really upset that there were money problems with the diner and that she is at risk of losing it. Mystery man told her there was a song that his dad used to sing to him when he’d feel down during Christmas. Something started smelling fishy right about there. If he had amnesia, how could he remember that? Anyway, he gave a moving performance of “Christmas Is…”. It made my heart feel warm and fuzzy inside and I came so close to crying happy tears!
Throughout his scene, a few more red flags began popping up. He stammered after being offered scotch. He said “I love scotch!… Um… at least I think I do?!” And as Doreen left to go deal with an issue in the restaurant, Mr. mystery man asked to make a phone call. A red flag went off in my head at that point. How could someone with amnesia who can’t remember his name or what he does for a living or very much at all for that matter, remember a phone number? Hmm? Then he started talking all secretively (“Yes it’s me. I told them I was mugged, amnesia.”) Something was definitely up. I wasn’t sure what to think of this guy now.
Later in the show, Peter dressed in drag! He looked really good! I think he should play women a little more often. Also with him were Keith, who is no stranger to drag (he looks stunning in women’s clothing!) and Michael who doesn’t look too bad in a dress either. These three were gossipy “news bags” always with their head out the window, or their ear to a china teacup on the floor. Michael’s character made me laugh when she answered the phone. Instead of “Hello!” she said “VOCM Cares!” because that’s what you have to say to win their vegetable hamper!
In the final scene of act one. It was finally revealed to the others by Doreen that she had in fact lost the diner. They needed a Christmas miracle now to keep it going. Solemnly, as they passed out desert, everybody sang “Coventry Carol“. The casts voices blended together so perfectly. The song was hauntingly beautiful.
Desert came around and it wasn’t the usual screech cake. It was bread pudding with raisins and chocolate. That was pretty good, though I picked the raisins out (I don’t like raisins). I tasted a hint of screech in there somewhere, they must have added a bit to the pudding. I liked it. I give the bread pudding a 6/10. Kristen really liked her pudding, her plate was clean in a matter of minutes!
In act two, in keeping with the recent trend, they had an instant choir! For those of you unaware of what that is, people gather together and rehearse for an hour and then record a song. There have been two hugely successful instant choir events in St. John’s recently (“California Dreaming” and “Hallelujah“, both of which were stellar!) and I was pleased to see Spirit do this in their show! I love it when Spirit gets the audience engaged and involved in the performance! The song we sang together was the classic “The 12 Days of Christmas”! Doreen assigned each side of the room a part in the song, we rehearsed for a minute or so, then began. Our partridge in a pear tree section should have projected a little more in my opinion, but other than that I thought that everyone did excellent for such a spur of the moment performance and we sounded wonderful! Especially when we all came together on five golden rings! Kara and all the other cast members were excellent conductors!
Also in act two, a few famous faces graced the stage for a performance. Elvis was one of them. Looking at him you knew it was Michael Power, but I swear if you closed your eyes and listened, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference! He was spot on! I was astounded!
The Beach Boys sang for us too! Janet, Peter, Keith and Michael performed “Little St. Nick” with harmonies. It was astounding! Keith stood out to me in this. His soprano voice never ceases to amaze me!
Keith also stood out in his performance of “White Christmas”! He and Michael and Janet each put their own spin on the song and Keith with his amazing soprano voice gave us a superbly silly rendition of the song.
Keith and Michael and Janet and Kara did a mash-up together. The boys sang “Imagine”, and I didn’t recognize the song that the girls sang, but thought it was nice. Their voices together, the power of the lyrics and the emotion poured into the performances made this one of the most breathtaking performances I’ve heard in a while. I was on the verge of tears listening to it!
This far into the blog post, I’m willing to bet you’re wondering how things are going with Doreen’s diner and who our shady mystery man really is? Well, I won’t spoil the show and tell you! I will however say that the show has a happy ending with a wonderful message! Do kind things for one another.
The finale was awesome! Everybody dressed up as Boney M! You should have seen their Afros, they were huge! They sang “Rivers Of Babylon” and of course “Mary’s Boy Child”! My heart overflowed with happiness! When it was over, my face hurt from smiling!
Then came my favorite part of the night, the singing of the Spirit of Newfoundland song. It too always makes my heart feel happy. It’s such a lovely song!
When it was finished, they gave shout-outs to their friends in the audience. They mentioned that me and Kristen were there! Kristen loved getting called out! It made her feel special.
As usual, I absolutely loved every minute of the show! Kristen did too! She gave it two thumbs AND two big toes up!!! I’m thrilled that she enjoyed her very first night out at Spirit! “For Lease Navidad” is an absolute must-see! It will warm your heart and put you in the Christmas spirit!
Another absolute must see is their Christmas luncheon! Starting on December 6th, the dynamic duos of Peter Halley and Shelley Neville and Evan Smith and Kara Noftle will take turns performing in a daily lunchtime show. As they sing Christmas carols (backed by Frank Fusari, Bill Brennan and Boomer Stamp) you’ll enjoy a three course dinner prepared by Chef Alex and his team. For more information on this or “For Lease Navidad”, or to make your reservation, call 579-3023 or click here to visit their website!