Light It Up! CPH gifts Cleveland with a new holiday musical

Have you heard of Tinselville? If not, you will soon, as Cleveland Play House presents their new holiday musical LIGHT IT UP! there now through December 22, 2021 at the Allen Theatre in Playhouse Square.

Complete with an interactive audience Light It Up Giveaway, Love Coupons, and lots of sequins, this world premiere new musical is a potluck of many kinds of songs, scenes, and subjects.

The cast of LIGHT IT UP! Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni

Taking place in Tinselville, USA, the audience is invited to the world-famous Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The town event is hosted by the enthusiastic residents, presenting a hodgepodge of original pop, rock, gospel, and jazz tunes, along with new arrangements of some old standards.

The song “Light It Up!” serves as a welcome to the show, explaining why the audience is celebrating. It is upbeat and catchy. “Ode to Tinselville” is sung by a “first-grader” and gives an overview of why the town is such a great place. “The Tale of the Tinselville Tree” wraps up this trio of introductions by giving the history of the town.

The cast of LIGHT IT UP! Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni

The celebration (hosted by Holly Daye, played by Terica Marie), then takes a turn into a mix of sometimes unconnected but likeable pieces. “Christmas Cinderella” features Clara (played by Brennyn Lark) and her friends in a Nutcracker-meets-BeyoncĂ© number. “Another Christmas Eve” features Orna Mint (played by Helen Marla White) raising money in a telethon for those in need. “Come On Home” features Marsha Strivers (played by Mariama Whyte) in a heartfelt message to her military husband overseas. “Where’s That Love You Promised Me” is sung by a sad, lonely Mrs. Claus (played by Florrie Bagel). All of these are loosely tied together, while the grunge, emo “St. Nicholas Sky” seems to come from nowhere and feels a bit out of place in the grand scheme of the 90-minute performance.

Florrie Bagel as Mrs. Claus in LIGHT IT UP! Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni.

Past the halfway point of the show, the Tinselville Community Players delve into the most cohesive part of the show, the “Festival of Lights” medley. The grouping of nine songs features the mid-winter light celebrations of different cultures, and a few more recognizable tunes. A nativity-based a cappella version of “Joy to the World” is a highlight of this more traditional batch of music, and showcases the wonderful harmonies of the ensemble.

There is no doubt that the brightest lights in this production are the vocals, as the cast members all shine in their own moments of music. The voices are strong, sincere, and have a wonderful presence both in solo and in harmony with one another.

Mariama Whyte as Mrs. Strivers and Terica Marie as Holly Daye in LIGHT IT UP! Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni

This enjoyable 90-minute show (no intermission) by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond Thompson is a bit of wholesome fun that will uplift the spirit. Director and choreographer Christopher Windom has successfully brought together both new and classic melodies with the energy of the talented performers to produce a unique, one-of-a-kind holiday experience.

Plan your trip to Tinselville today by purchasing tickets at
Seats are $25.00 – $85.00 in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square.

The Band of LIGHT IT UP! Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni

Cleveland Play House is committed to the health and safety of their guests, artists, staff, and volunteers. CPH continues to follow guidance from the CDC and the State of Ohio as part of that commitment. To view current guidelines on vaccination requirement, cleanliness, and more, CLICK HERE.

Don’t forget to arrive early to enjoy the annual Festival of Trees in the Allen Theatre lobbies. This beloved holiday tradition is FREE to the public and designed to be enjoyed by everyone in the community.

Festival of Trees

Published by Kate Klotzbach

After writing for Examiner for 7 years, I brought my content to a new venue! Founded in June of 2016. I'm a Musical Theater graduate of Ohio Northern University and a long-time performer, arts lover and former stage manager. I spent 3 years touring the U.S. with VEE Corporation, and am a proud Cleveland Singing Angels alum. Lover of Cleveland, chocolate, coffee, dogs, scary movies, Cards Against Humanity and (of course) my awesome family. PLEASE BE SURE TO "FOLLOW" MY BLOG FOR ALL OF THE LATEST UPDATES AND POSTS!

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