"JOY TO THE WORLD," ODYSSEY DANCE THEATRE, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Thursday; additional performances today at 2 and 7:30 p.m. (355-2787).

If Odyssey Dance Theatre's "Joy to the World" doesn't get you into the holiday spirit, nothing will.

The Orem-based dance company — with the help of Jericho Road, David Osmond, Jenny Jordan Frogley, Margo Watson, and keyboardist Brett Raymond and the "Joy to the World" Band — opened its seasonal dance-and-music production Thursday and gave the audience a good dose of humor, soul and reverence.

The fact of the matter is, "Joy to the World" is an intimate live theatrical performance that encourages interaction.

A case in point is Osmond's take on the Mariah Carey hit "All I Want for Christmas Is You." During that song, Osmond scans the theater, locates his target and serenades one of the ladies in the audience. Later in the show, he returns to his victim and asks her to sing a line of "Jingle Bells," as the band and the back-up singers give her the floor.

Thursday night's concert would have been a more enjoyable experience for most of the attendees if it weren't for a couple of discourteous patrons who took flash photos during some of the selections. But the blinding strobes didn't hinder the dancers.

Rick Robinson, who is back for the program after taking most of the year off, burned up the floor with Ashley DelGrasso as the spotlight couple in the ballroom extravaganza "Sleigh Ride."

Other notable selections include the Bob Fosse-inspired "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Camron Nelson's humorous and poignant "Christmas Time Is Here" and the old-school groove of "Breaktime at Macy's," featuring some limber elves and hip-hopping Santas.

Jericho Road shined with its harmonious arrangement of "Little Drummer Boy," although the group — Abe Mills, Bret Bryce, Dave Kimball and Justin Smith — hit some wrong notes in the a cappella opening of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" during Thursday's performance.

Frogley's soulful vocal loop de loops brought vigor to "Jesus Love Is Like a River" and "Joy to the World."

Raymond and the band backed the singers from time to time, but really got down with a bluesy version of "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" and "Up On the Housetop."

The weak link in the musical chain was vocalist Margo Watson. Her voice wavered a bit during "Some Children" and her vibrato got in the way — it was a bit much for the straightforward "Breath of Heaven."

Still, the two-hour production, which includes a 15-minute intermission, is a well-balanced work that keeps the audience's attention and even has them singing and clapping along.


E-mail: scott@desnews.com