Cleveland Play House rings in the holidays with “Light It Up!”


The musical event, written and composed by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond Thompson, is built around a message of joy around the holidays.

The world premiere of a holly-jolly musical is now premiering at the Cleveland Play House and is sure to put you in a festive mood. Light this up! a family musical event until December 22 at the Allen Theater, written and composed by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond Thompson features original holiday pop, rock, gospel and jazz, as well as new arrangements of Christmas classics from Webb, a Tony Award-winning composer and arranger.

The show began as a series of original songs and new Christmas carol arrangements for Broadway’s “Carols for a Cure” project, annual recordings supporting Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS.

Webb and Thompson created the title song for the project to capture a different perspective on the holiday season. “What came to me was the idea of ​​enlightening it,” says Thompson. “Especially during the holidays, I have experienced a lot of loss in my family and I know that not everyone is partying. Some are in mourning as well. “We wanted to create a piece that uplifts people after a loss and gives them an opportunity to feel, inspire and connect.”

For Thompson, the song is a tangible example of the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.

“The song ‘Light it Up’ would be a great Christmas song if we focused on lighting up our own lives and the lives of others you have the opportunity to meet,” he says. “Everywhere we go, we have it. chance to live and spread love. “Once the song was recorded, Thompson knew it had even more potential. Now even he admits that he has grown even taller than he had imagined.

While creating the production, Thompson and Webb settled on Light this up! which takes place in a fictional town called Tinselville where residents celebrate the annual lighting of their Christmas tree. The play also has many connections in Northeast Ohio, as two of the cast members are from the area while Durond is an alumnus of the Case Western Reserve University / Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program, and Webb (a Tony Award-winning composer) previously created musical arrangements for the Play House production in 2018 Marie and Rosette.

“I hope the public sees each other. We are more alike as humans than different, ”says Thompson. “The show is more than just a celebration of Christmas, it showcases the light we can find, stand up and take with us beyond the holiday season alone.”

Thompson’s favorite part of the show includes a section where actors from the Tinselville community present their production of the “Festival of Light,” which draws on other holiday traditions like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Santa Lucia. “It’s not something that we experience in many other pieces,” he says. It’s a magical part of the show.


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