BWW Reviews: Adam Wylie & Carly Bracco Celebrate HOLIDAY OUR WAY at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal
On Monday December 16 Adam Wylie and Carly Bracco presented their cabaret evening Holiday Our Way at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal billed as A Night of Music, Magic and Madness....and literally turned the place upside down. The joint was jumpin' a full hour before the stage show even began. Besides a silent auction of Broadway posters and original cast albums signed by special guest composer Richard Sherman, there were visits from Santa Claus, three elves, a quintet of carolers and magicians who circulated around the packed house, stopping to perform from table to table. The fantastic pre-show really got the crowd in the holiday spirit.
Wylie and Bracco are like day and night, black and white, they are so different. She is a sweet, demure - well, almost - pretty girl with a lovely lilting soprano and he, an exuberant, over.the.top comic/magician/singer with a big, brassy style that drives the audience wild. Divergent or not, their talents really blended to create an original, fun evening of entertainment. They were backed by a rollicking 5-piece band: musical director Richard Allan at the piano, Brian Ruppenkamp on guitar, Philip D'Amore on drums, Janine Delwarte on sax/flute and Ron Sures on bass. Santa (Chris Hill) made numerous appearances onstage and the five carolers from the pre-show provided great backup singing throughout: Jay Donnell, Richie Ferris, Bonnie Gordon, Melinda Porto and Estevan Valdes.
As the title Holiday Our Way implies, Wylie and Bracco wanted it their way, so there was an eclectic mix of music both new and old, including eleven Christmas songs and eight pop/Broadway tunes. Richard Sherman took the piano, accompanying himself and treated the audience to the jubilant "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins, and Bracco brought down the house with her gorgeous rendition of Walt Disney's favorite song from the score "Feed the Birds". Wylie won us over with "Movin' Too Fast" from The Last Five Years, and together the pair soared with a 'Rudolph' Claymation medley which included "Most Wonderful Day of the Year", "Ho, Ho, Ho We Are Santa's Elves", "A Couple of Misfits", "There's Always Tomorrow" and the oh so lovely "Silver and Gold".
Other highlights of the 80-minute set included: Carly and two of her female backups on a very sexy "Santa Baby", Adam and the guys delivering a dynamic "Mama Says" from Footloose, two nice duets from Wylie and Bracco on the beautiful "If Only" from The Little Mermaid and the more comedic ballad "Song That Goes Like This" from Spamalot; Wylie really knocked it out of the park performing a very funny magic card trick with "I Believe" from The Book of Mormon cleverly positioned, and the duo concluded with a trio of lesser known Christmas tunes, "Christmas Vacation", "Holiday Road" and "All Alone on Christmas". Before the show everyone filled out a form answering the questions What is the worst gift you could receive this Christmas?, What is the worst gift you have ever received? and What is the worst gift you could give someone at your table? At one point during the show the fearsome duo, sight unseen in a mad lib, performed "The Twelve Days of Christmas" incorporating all of our answers into the song. What a hoot!
Carly Bracco has a truly lovely soprano voice. We are used to seeing her play ingenue roles as in A Little Night Music for etc. But, she does have quite the range which manifested itself here with the boldly delivered "Killer Queen". It really brought out her wild and fiery side. Performing opposite the funny and unpredictable Wylie, one has to be prepared for anything! The two made beautiful music together, as the saying goes, and succeeded in making everyone's holiday a lot cheerier with their very unique Holiday Our Way.
Don hails from Holyoke, Massachusetts and holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Education and Bilingual Studies. He is a teacher of foreign language and ESL.
Don is in his fifth year with BWW, currently serving as Senior Editor of the Los Angeles Page.
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