Home for Christmas (JD Production Company)
The Old Museum
There are many highlights to JD Production Company’s “Home for Christmas”. Most of them are musical, but the standout for me comes when its headliner Josh Daveta, talks about the joys of being able to gather together and welcomes those who might have come along to the concert alone. In this smallest of show moments, the sentiment of the one-night-only celebration of the festive season is truly summarised. There’s an essential generosity of spirit to the whole venture with Daveta appearing on stage at the Old Museum not only with The Sequins singers, but guest performer Asabi Goodman and the Brisbane City Gospel Choir, in celebration of the diversity of representation through the common language of music.
A jazzy ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ introduction eases the audience to the concert’s start before the gospel choir (conducted by their musical director Tosin Adewumi) gives as an appropriately angelic ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, featuring Montana Lara, from in front of a packed stage of talented performers. Like their later ‘Silver Bells’ featuring Kelly Keim, it features some glorious vocal layering, and also, in this early instance, s impressive keyboard accompaniment to set the serene scene (keyboard 1 Musical Director Paula Girvan). And while this is a classic rather than Mariah version, the Songbird Supreme does make a later appearance. Anyone who knows Daveta would expect no less. ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ is then a joyous percussion-filled continuation of the show’s spirit and my favourite of the night given its gospel vibes and resulting infectiously spirited clap-along. It is also the first showcase of Daveta’s razzle dazzle festive costumes, designed by Joel Dunkley.
The concert features a mix of musical styles as well as performers. Straight from the “Hairspray” stage, when she is playing Motormouth Maybelle as part of the musical’s Australian tour, Goodman absolutely owns The Manhattan Transfer’s ‘Operator’, giving us a gutsy gospelesque take with her Aretha-like belt. Indeed, her voice is so stellar as to elicit an almost visceral response from in-the-moment, absorbed audience members who can’t get enough of her talent.
Cassie George shares a strong jazzy cover of ‘Last Christmas’, meaning that those still going with whamageddon remain safe and Aya Valentine gives us a beautiful ‘The Christmas Song” courtesy of a delicate arrangement with feature of Harvey Blues on guitar. Light and shade is provided by numbers like Daveta’s heartfelt and wholly beautiful ‘Miss You Most (at Christmas Time)’ and Tallis Tutunoa shares a lovely sway-along ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ still-relevant wish for a year without any fear.
Across all numbers, the incredible 11 piece band is given ample moments to shine, both collectively and as individual musicians, especially in an Ella Macrokanis led, eventual all-in ‘Joy to the World’ and then a full-of surprises (#inagoodway) ‘Joyful Joyful’ crescendo towards the concert’s all-too-soon conclusion.
There is much to enjoy and also celebrate about “Home for Christmas”, which is now in its fourth year. The first show of Daveta’s freshly launched company JD Production Company is one of sequins, candy and Jingle Bell Christmas cheer in abundance, but also some of the best talent we have in this city, so be sure to mark any of its future outings in your end of year calendars.