Nine ladies dancing

Spirit of Christmas

More than nine ladies are dancing in the <span style=Spirit of Christmas.">

More than nine ladies are dancing in the Spirit of Christmas.

Rated 4.0

It’s a perennial, popular local recipe: Take six parts overindulgent casino buffet, add excess alcohol, and thrash thoroughly until it’s all you can do to keep your eyes open during the cabaret-style show you shelled out good money for. Who in the Biggest Little City in the World hasn’t heard some well-fed and worn-out dude snoring through the impassioned solo of a seasoned chanteuse, effectively lobbing the proverbial monkey-wrench into somebody’s moment in the spotlight?

You’d have to be beyond hammered, however, to sleep through the Eldorado’s Spirit of Christmas, officially billed as “A Magical Celebration” and “The Most Enchanting Christmas Show.” This epitome of extravaganza from the producers of Spirit of the Dance is a veritable smorgasbord of Christmas delights, complete with song, dance and Santa Claus. It’s like the biggest Christmas cookie you can think of, with frosting, sprinkles and a glass of milk for wholesome dipping. “London’s biggest Christmas show” started its Reno run on Nov. 22 and closes on Dec. 29. On Christmas night in the Eldorado Showroom, creatures were stirring in every available seat.

From the opening number, “We Need A Little Christmas,” to the warm-fuzzy of Irving Berlin’s timeless “White Christmas” that closed the show—and with every crooned tune in between—the 75-minute Spirit of Christmas was a feast of feel-good Christmas smarm, schmaltz and sleigh-rides. With talented singers and dancers, decent choreography and a cast of characters that included costumed mice, penguins, elephants with pink tutus and parasols and a screwball elf with candy-cane stockings, this was family-style entertainment at its fa-la-la-la-la finest.

While the elf cajoled festive-loving audience members onstage for a Simon Says-style dance-off of sheer mockery, and a Marilyn Monroe look-alike tormented wide-awake men with the coy “Santa Baby,” the show acknowledged the reason for the season with a reverent rendition of “What Child Is This?"—made memorable with robes, faux votives and an abundance of asthma-attack-inducing clouds from a smoke machine, the lone distraction of this holly-jolly production—plus a spiritually-charged sing-along of “Oh Happy Day!” Chortling children clapped and sang along with “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and medleys that included Alvin and The Chipmunks classics. There was jazz. There was waltzing. There was a partridge in a pear tree.

No long winter’s nap could be had here, no nodding off during the infectious refrains of “Jingle Bells.” From church-choir harmonies to Rockettes-style dancing, these first-rate performers combined the obviously well-trained discipline of theater with the precision of a well-rehearsed vocal chorale, iced with a splash of Broadway. And no one dared to sneak in a quick 40 winks while shapely singers and feathery-fan dancers belted out “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

No bad manners abounded during what was indubitably a British-ish production of Christmastime traditions that transcend the span of the Atlantic. The Spirit of Christmas, was like the perfect eggnog: smooth, spiked with a little kick and sprinkled with nutmeg. Just like that favorite holiday treat, providing Reno stays on Santa’s “nice” list, this town and its many Christmas tourists may get to enjoy it again next year.