When an ambitious young snack vendor harbors hopes of showbiz stardom but doesn’t know how to start, he combs the streets of New Orleans looking for talent to help him realize his dream: performing onstage in the Harrah’s Casino Theater.
In short order, he finds the multitalented cast he needs to make his big splash.
That’s the story of the Christmas show that Marshall Harris, of Artboy Productions, will be staging in the Harrah’s Theater on Saturday, Dec. 5.
Harris’ production, “Holidays at Harrah’s,” will feature an artistically diverse cast that includes a 40-member chorus, a burlesque dancer, a tap dancer and a drag queen, plus a number of locally well-known actors, singers and musicians, including the self-styled “world’s only female female impersonator,” Becky Allen.
The show is being staged as a benefit for the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans and pFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. All of the participants, including Harris, are appearing in the show pro bono.
Harrah’s is donating the use of its 500-seat theater and the assistance of its full production crew of sound, lighting and backstage technicians, Harris said.
Harris, who recently co-starred with Allen in their original production of “Hot, Wet and Naughty,” explained that his latest creation is “kind of a variety show that showcases the abundance of talent we have here in New Orleans, using a Christmas theme.”
In addition to producing the show, Harris has cast himself as the snack vendor with big dreams of stardom. Spotting an ad in the newspaper for a holiday show audition at Harrah’s, he shares his vision with a skeptical co-worker (actor Mason Joiner).
“So I wander through the streets of New Orleans, just observing all the talented people who are right there under our noses,” Harris said. “Pooling their collective energy and getting ideas from them, I start thinking that I can take all that with me and that’s what’s going to make me a star.
“Each person has a chance to perform what they do best,” Harris added.
In addition to Harris, Allen and Joiner, the cast will also include about 40 members of the 82-member Symphony Chorus under the direction of Steven Edwards. They will be singing popular Christmas songs as an overture at the start of the show, plus the closing number for Act I, the opening number for Act II and with the full cast at the show’s conclusion.
Others in the show will include percussionist Carl Mack playing “Frosty the Snowman” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on his trademark xylophone; tap dancer Heidi Malnar, who will dance to the Louis Prima composition “Sing Sing Sing”; drag queen Aubrey Sinclaire singing “Santa Baby”; burlesque dancer Bella Blue; singer, and actor Jordan Leggett who will transform Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” into the locally angled “New Orleans State of Mind”; plus singers Reby Rae, Josh Carcabasis and Angela McClue and well-known Equity actor Meredith Long.
Pianist Jim Walpole will accompany several of the singers on a baby grand piano onstage.
Other Christmas favorites like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Hard Candy Christmas” and more will also be performed.
“I didn’t put a whole lot of dialogue into this because I don’t want to bore the audience to death,” Harris explained. “It’s mostly singing. I just wrote dialogue to tie the songs together so the people are entertained and don’t have to listen to a lot of chatter. It should move along very well.”
During the grand finale at the end of the show, all of the performers will come out onstage and join in on three traditional holiday songs.
“I’ll be in my tail coat and top hat, and I’m turning into a star right there in front of everybody, just like I dreamed of being,” Harris said.
The show starts at 8 p.m. and will run for about an hour and 15 minutes with an intermission.
Tickets, priced at $35, are available online through Eventbrite.com. No one under 21 admitted to the casino.