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Cleveland Play House’s ‘Light It Up!’ brings much needed cheer

In the year of “theater deja vu” it is absolutely wonderful to see a totally new production geared for the holiday season. Cleveland Play House introduces “Light It Up!” as their holiday offering and it is a delight to behold.

In the mystical town of Tinselville, USA everyone is all aglow with excitement. It is time for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Months of rehearsals by the Tinselville Players ensures that this will be a celebration long remembered. All of the town’s prominent citizens are involved including: Ginger Snap, Candie Canemaker, St. Nickolas, Mariah Rudolph, Holly Daye, Juniper Green, Oliver Winters, The Nutcracker, Orna Mint and Marsha Strivers.

This holiday jukebox musical is chock full of old standards as well as newly realized renditions that are wrapped up in boxes of pop, rock, gospel and jazz with bright colorful ribbons and a big bow. In all there are sixteen numbers plus a nine song medley that makes the little less than two hours (without intermission) fly by. There’s even a couple of trivia contests involving two of the citizens and audience members.

“Light It Up!” was originally conceived and written by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond Thompson and directed and choreographed by Christopher Windom. The brightly arrayed set design is by Lex Liang and costumes are by Jen Caprio. Adam Honoré is the Lighting Designer with Broken Chord doing the Sound Design.

Live music is provided by an excellent band made up of Keith Williams (Musical Director/Conductor/Keyboard I), Matthew Dolan (Keyboard II), Joseph Rangel (Guitar), Craig Lee (Bass) and Aaron Smith (Percussion).

The cast consists of Florrie Bagel (Ginger Snap/Mrs. Claus), Kristina Gabriela (Candie Canemaker), Matt Gittins (St. Nicholas Elf), Brennyn Lark (Mariah Rudolph/Clara), Terica Maria (Holly Daye), Gustavo Márquez (Juniper Green), Benjamin H. Moore (Oliver Winters V/Scrooge), Christopher Portley (The Nutcracker), Helen Marla White (Orna Mint) and Mariama Whyte (Marsha Strivers).

Especially this year we all need a little extra Christmas cheer and this musical extravaganza is just the ticket. “Light It Up!” is the perfect family friendly show that will appeal to all ages. Come spend an enjoyable evening in Tinselville with this wonderful collection of holiday characters.

The Cleveland Play House production of “Light It Up!” will be on stage in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square through December 22, 2021. For more information and tickets go to or call (216) 241-6000.

For current listings of health and safety protocols go to


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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