The “Hard Rock” name has become synonymous with glitz, glamour and—of course—music. In recent decades, the Hard Rock has stepped up its game with new hotel locations and live music productions around the world.
The new Hard Rock in Palm Springs is now offering a regular series called The Edge, a revue-style music show, with a different theme each month, featuring up and coming performers. Throughout December, The Edge, no surprise, is offering a Christmas production known as Rockin’ the Holidays. The show is built around a repertoire of Christmas songs you’d expect to hear, such as “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night,” as well as more-recent Christmas hits by pop artists.
All 12 cast members are excellent, as is the backing band. However, the show has some serious faults.
The biggest fault: The show is held in a ballroom, not a theater or concert hall. This means the seats are all at the same level, not tiered. This also means the room was not designed with sound quality in mind. (The sound wasn’t horrible, but it could have been much better.) The uninspiring ballroom setting should make everyone hope that the rumors about a new live venue being constructed at the Hard Rock at some point are true.
Another major problem is the lack of production values. There are some good lighting effects, but aside from a few Christmas decorations (such as a wreath hanging from the top of the stage), there’s nothing that makes the show stand out in terms of visuals—which is disappointing, given the $45 to $60 price tag.
The talent of the cast, though, can’t be denied. Highlights included “Grown-Up Christmas List,” an Amy Grant hit, performed by Fredericka Meek; Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?” performed by Amy Pemberton; and another Amy Grant song, “Breath of Heaven,” performed by Kelli Provart. These were all beautiful renditions.
The show, while remaining in the Christmas spirit, included some welcome edgy elements. During “Santa Baby,” all of the female cast members came out in PG-13 attire and included a bit of tease in their dance steps and hip movements. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I heard whistling and screams of “YEAH!” from various male members of the audience.
After “Santa Baby,” it was the guys’ turn to be sexy: Two male members of the cast (Tim Valencia and another cast member who was not identified on the set list) came out wearing very tight Santa-like outfits. They moved to two audience-level platforms and did some rather risqué dancing and singing that got ladies screaming as if they were at a Chippendale’s show. The men then took a female member of the audience onstage—and toward the end of the song, Valencia offered his female volunteer a lap dance, of sorts.
During “Joy to the World,” producers broke out the only special effect used in the show—a machine that blew soap suds resembling snow onto small sections of the audience seated closest to the walls. The soap-suds snow returned during the closing number, a cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.”
Fans of Christmas music who aren’t looking for much in the way of stagecraft will enjoy Rockin’ the Holidays. However, I expected more, given the fact that this show is being performed at a venue with the name Hard Rock. Let’s hope this is just the beginning for the Hard Rock—and that more, including a better music and performance venue, is to come.
The Edge’s Rockin’ the Holidays takes place at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, through Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Hard Rock Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive. Tickets to the 18-and-older show are $45, or $60 for VIP. For tickets or more information, call 760-832-4860, or visit www.theedgepalmsprings.com.