By ALAN HOSKINS
KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- LeShea Wright is back at Quality Hill Playhouse and better than ever.
A graduate of F.L. Schlagle High School and Kansas City Kansas Community College, the KCK native stars with Lindsey McKee and Cary Mock in J. Kent Barnhart’s annual holiday production of ‘Christmas in Song’ at Quality Hill at 303 W. 10th Street in Kansas City, MO.
It’s Wright’s fourth performance at Quality Hill. Her professional debut came in the 2006 performance of “Christmas in Song” and she returned again in 2008 for “Sing Out, Sister!” and the annual Christmas show.
Singing since age 3, Wright performed in numerous choral groups at KCKCC along with starring as Deena Jones in the College’s production of “Dream Girls” that earned her an audition for the Irene Ryan Scholarship. She was featured with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra in 2007, has sung the national anthem every year for the Kansas City Royals since 2008 and joined several artists in recordings.
Highlights are numerous in this year’s “Christmas in Song” and that’s not by accident. A veteran of 25 years of directing and producing musicals, Barnhart selects songs that bring out the best in each performer and he hit the jackpot this year and not just for Wright.
Wright performs the classic “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Grown-Up Christmas” in the first act and then follows up with the spiritual “Mary Had a Baby” and “Mary. Did You Know?” before a show stopping duet with Cary Mock on “More Than Wonderful.”
Other show-stoppers include Lindsey McKee’s “O Holy Night” and a hysterical rendition of “The Twelve Days After Christmas;” and Mock joins Barnhart in a piano duet of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” along “Christmas Lullaby” and “Joseph’s Song.”
One of Quality Hill’s qualities is the humor of Barnhart and no Quality Hill performance should ever be performed without him performing at least one piano solo. This one provides two piano solos – “O Come, O Come Emanuel” and a rousing rendition of “Jingle Bells” – to close the first act and matched only by the finale “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”
“Christmas in Song” continues through a 3 p.m. matinee performance on Christmas eve. There are 31 performances remaining after Thanksgiving including 3 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays and some weekdays. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. A schedule of performances and reservations are available on line at www.QualityHillPlayhouse.com or by calling 816-421-1700.
PHOTO: A Schlagle High School and Kansas City Kansas Community College graduate, LeShea Wright (right) stars with (from left) director J. Kent Barnhart, Lindsey McKee and Cary Mock in Quality Hill Playhouse’s production of “Christmas in Song” running through Christmas eve.