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A Swinging Birdland Christmas

Christmas is the most romantic holiday of all. American cinema and songbook are overflowing with splendid homage to the holiday. To my mind, the British have the food, drinks and decor holiday market cornered. But one need skip across the pond to bask in the Christmas show business splendor.

As soon as December rolls around, I find myself yearning for Bing to encourage me to have a drink more, because baby it’s cold outside. I catch a glimpse in the mirror and imagine what I would look like in a sequined snood, winding up a mechanical monkey and believing that next year all our troubles will be far away. During the first snowfall, I try running in the street and (quietly) wishing the building and loan a Merry Christmas. The mind reels with the richness of imagery. However, often the heart aches at the lack of real live people embracing and celebrating these traditions.

Imagine the complete and utter joy of discovering that such a thing truly exists and it involves champagne! A Swinging Birdland Christmas is a technicolor dream come true. Christmas standards, jazzy interpretations and re-imagined medleys are performed by Klea Blackhurst, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch (and the Birdland jazz quartet.) Ms. Blackhurst, a new edition to the show, is utterly charming and of splendid voice. She has a surprise stupendous musical talent up her sleeve, which I will not divulge here. Mr. Caruso is a born showman, and in a decent world would be hosting his own televised variety show. His smooth voice is a natural for the repertoire. Billy Stritch sings like he plays the piano, with rich interpretation. His phrasing is reminiscent of Mel Torme and Frank Sinatra. Together these three make a delightful trio.

The show is a nice mix of solos, duets and trios. A standout solo is that of Mr. Stritch’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” (Frank Loesser.) I dare anyone not to swoon. Any one of the evening’s songs would put even the most Grinchy into a better mood. But for the hardest heart and coldest soul, there was the tribute to the Osmond’s Christmas Show. Jim Caruso’s Jimmy Osmond will linger in my mind. ( A note to television producers: There is a serious demand for Christmas variety shows!) If all this wasn’t enough to make one feel jolly, a special guest was in the audience last night. For the encore, Christine Ebersole took the stage and performed White Christmas. And when she asked everyone to join in, the barn door swung open (in my mind) and it was in fact snowing. I stood in my red satin, white fur trimmed gown, clutching Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen’s hands and thinking; “Oh what a lucky gal am I.”

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Holiday, Theatre

 

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Dressed In Holiday Cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.   There is so much festivity that only the Grinchiest of us can not find something to enjoy.  Sidewalks scented with cut evergreens, lobbies festooned in live floral and greenery, twinkling lights and flickering candles; it’s simply mood altering.  It is no wonder that holiday parties abound.  Whether your invitation has arrived on embossed linen stationery or as an email blast, the result is the same: what to wear?!

Special occasion dressing is at its core, creating the very best version of one’s self.  Holiday dressing is no different, but comes with a few (easily avoided) pitfalls.

Sparkle, shine, shimmer are the order of the day.  Fear not, a strategic approach will prevent you from looking like a female impersonator on a farewell tour.  If you are heading out to purchase a new tog, tread slowly and lightly.  There are party clothes being sold which are designed for a very small segment of the population.  It is an unfortunate fact of life, that on most of us a gold lame smoking jacket only conjures Liberace.  Head to toe glitz should be avoided at all cost.  With glam, a little goes a long way.  If you choose to bedazzle your torso, keep shoes, jewelry and bags in matte.  A sparkly top with a black pant or jeans can be paired with a more glitzy shoe.  Be careful with your jewelry however, or that sparkly top may start to resemble a tree topper.  It’s all about balance.  Just as you wouldn’t show excessive leg with decolletage, your sparkly mustn’t upstage your shine.  Be equally judicious with nail lacquer and hair accessories.  It is easy to get caught up in the occasion with results similar to a gingerbread house in the hands of a kid with a frosting bag.  All admonition aside, have fun.  This is a great time to take a small step outside one’s comfort zone.  Is there a jewel tone silk blouse in the back of your closet, yearning to breathe free?  Have you been ogling a pair of tuxedo pants?  Is there a shoe so impractical it should be outlawed?  Have at it!  “Tis the season.

For business parties (keeping in mind that “business” always trumps “party”) a workplace outfit can be easily festooned.  Slip on a sparkly or shiny pair of heels, perhaps a patent leather pump in a kicky color.  Stash your necessities in a pretty impractical clutch.  Choose one glitzy jewel (sparkly earrings OR necklace OR pin.)  Holiday parties are a great time to justify those vintage brooches.  You are ready for the office party where you will drink sparingly and be your most charming self, and do nothing to cause regret or employment uncertainty.

Because one should never assume, the following are ironclad Don’ts: Thou shall never adorn oneself with a theme sweater as it saddens Santa.  Thou shall never don a chapeau similar to that of Santa’s for that is an abomination.  Thou shall not reference reindeer in any manner; including the wearing of antlers.  I can shoot straight, if I don’t have to shoot too far.*   Happy Holidays!

* – Scarlett O’Hara

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Holiday, Style

 

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