Richmond, VA – Once upon a time 75 years in the future a great performance took place! The date will be 12/6/2022, the place, what was known as The Mosque which, in the future, we will call the Altria Theater. Come with me as I witness Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox deliver a nostalgic Christmas journey through 20th century eyes.
When I walked into the Altria, I knew I was in for a treat. The stage, adorned with wallpapered walls, stockings hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that PMJ would soon be there. If you looked closely you could even see a major prize, imported all the way from Fragile, Italy (pronounced Fra Gee Lay).
The cast for this past future performance included Gunhild Carling (vocals and every instrument under the sun), Sarah Potenza (vocals), Caity Gyorgy (vocals), Blake Lewis (Master of Ceremonies, vocals), Jabu Graybeal (tap), Logan Evan Thomas (keys), Mike Chisnall (guitar and banjo), Adam Kubota (upright bass), Dave Tedeschi (drums), Kyle Morgan (sax, clarinet), and JP Floyd (trombone).
Caity Gyorgy kicked off the night with a Christmasized version of a “My Favorite Things” of Sound of Music fame. With a big band look and feel, the night was off to a wonderful start.
Blake Lewis performed the hosting duties in flawless follies fashion with a little bit of humor and some dance moves thrown in for good measure. He introduced Sarah Potenza who proceeded to belt a powerful jazzy “Power of Love“.
A little Holiday spirit about the yearning the journey home for Christmas was followed by all gathering for a great cover of “Rude“. I was having flashbacks to my childhood catching movies and shows from the childhood of my parents depicting the appeal of Ziegfeld Follies and Vaudeville.
Then it came to me in a vision… the Madonna Follies, complete with Gunhild Carling setting the “Material Girl” tone with a… wait for it… trombone (this was priceless and so much fun). Gunhild did a little brass, a lot of vocals, and some dance. I hope Madonna is not reading this because I think I like Carling’s Madonna much better than the original!
What would Vaudeville song be without a little tap dance? Jabu Graybeal kept time with his feet to a delightful “Mario Suite” followed by a Christmas tap to “Sleighride“. From the tap to the 40’s, Caity came out with an authentic era look and sang a jazzy “Love Story“.
A lot is to be said about those that have fun together seem to put on the best and most authentic performances. If offstage simulated snowballs flying on stage striking the musicians (seemed to be that Kyle and JP may have been the primary targets), this was a truly authentic performance. Now mind you, neither took the assault passively (thankfully simulated snowballs do not fly apart nor do they melt) as the duo routinely hurled a salvo of recycled snowballs backstage.
One of the most amazing pieces of the night was Gunhild with “Happy“. I do not think I have ever seen anyone play such a mix of instruments in one song in my entire life and she did so flawlessly and with a lot of energy. Upright bass and trumpet at the same time to start with some single person dueling trumpets later. You have to see it to believe it.
As the night came to the end, we were treated to a postmodern piano medley by Logan Evan Thomas, a Grinchy Christmas medley by the entire cast, and Blake doing “Radioactive“. The main performance ended with most important question as the year comes to an end, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve“.
It could have ended there, but the audience would not stand for the end (on the contrary, they stood and begged for more, egging them on). Giving into the audience pressure, PMJ emerged to perform one of their signature covers, Meghan Trainor’s, “It’s All About the Bass“. A perfect Vaudeville / Ziegfeld ending to a night that would have happened 75 years ago predicting the music of today.
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Postmodern Jukebox Setlist
My Favorite Things
The Power of Love
I’ll Be Home for Christmas (If Only in My Dreams)
In the Arms of an Angel
Tap dance medley
Oh Christmas Tree / Christmas Time Is Here
All I Want for Christmas
Always Be My Baby
I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
All About That Bass