Review - The Holiday Guys & Dead Accounts
Even if the names Marc Kudisch and Jeffrey Denman are as foreign to you as the middle monikers of the three wise men, there's a wonderful familiarity to their on-stage personas as The Holiday Guys. It's the kind of relaxed, off-the-cuff give and take that's been enjoyed for generations, whether packaged as Hope and Crosby, Allen and Rossi or Brooks and Reiner.Kudisch, the powerfully-voiced, square-jawed baritone, is known to musical theatre audiences as the kind of actor who excels at both serious leading man roles and the kind that spoof his hunky looks. Denman is the kind of classic Broadway song and dance man who recalls a time of crowded supper clubs and art deco glitz.
Their two-man seasonal vehicle, Happy Merry Hanu-Mas, has the feel of an intimate television special from back in the days when Broadway performers were a beloved part of American popular culture and coast-to-coast televised visits with them had families anxiously gathered around the tube.Actually, television figures rather prominently in their song list, which includes memories from A Charlie Brown Christmas, the stop motion animated Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and the more recent South Park. And you'll probably detect a bit of Oscar and Felix in the guys' holiday personas; Kudisch as the casually-clad Jewish lug with a frat boy attitude gulping refreshment from a stein and Denman as the nattily dressed fastidious WASP reviving himself with sips from a proper cocktail tumbler. Music Director Timothy Splain leads the band from an upstage corner of James Morgan's festively trimmed living room set.
Working without a credited director and apparently self-scripted, the "plot" of the 90-minute entertainment concerns whether or not Kudisch can convince Denman to stop worrying about the rehearsed program and just kick back and do what feels right. The result is a quirky mixture of traditionally-presented favorites like "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and fun variations like a Caribbean-flavored "Holly Jolly Christmas," a jazz-tap arrangement of The Nutcracker and a challenge sing-off of "O Hanukkah" and "O Christmas Tree."
Lucky audience members win gently used presents in the show's "re-gifting" segments and there's even a spot for a guest star (Michael Riedel the night I attended) to give a dramatic reading of Clement Clarke Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas while the boys embellish the mood with radio-style sound effects.