Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

With his Noël Coward tribute show, Jason Henderson does more than just honor the Master.

By: Dec. 07, 2023
Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU
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Jason Henderson is not a newcomer to the cabaret scene.  He has been around since his debut show in 2018.  Why he hasn’t become a cabaret star is the question of the minute - one might assume that the answer lies in that pesky one-year hiatus that the industry took, starting in March of 2020.  Many an artist, actor, and entrepreneur lost a mountain of momentum when the pandemic hit, and cabaret and concert was particularly affected in a harsh way because it was a literal year before the clubs could reopen for bona fide business.  And Mr. Henderson also hails from a far away land called New Zealand, which complicated things like quarantines and visas, and stuff like that, there.  But Jason Henderson is back stateside and he is back in the clubs and he is back on track to claim his spot as one of the industry’s top performers, which is exactly where  and what he should be.

Mr. Henderson is currently presenting his musical cabaret Getting To Noël You at Don’t Tell Mama, and although it wasn’t his opening night and although a Broadway World Cabaret writer had already attended the production, this writer’s curiosity was so strongly piqued by the stories swirling Henderson’s Coward tribute show (and by Rob Lester’s review HERE) that I could not let a chance to see young Mister Henderson in action.  And I am so very glad that I did.  You see, Mr. Henderson’s Noël Coward tribute show may be titled Getting To Noël You, but what you will get to know at the musical play isn’t a what, it’s a who:  Jason Henderson.  No rote revue of songs by a famed composer is this, there are no Wikipedia entries read off like a laundry list, and no glassy-eyed commentaries about an artist from the past with whom the artist from the present has no connection, whatsoever.  No, no: this is a story of an office worker.  A temp.  This is the tale of a temp who goes to work and experiences socializing with staplers, complications with copiers, and Talkie Tina in the next office.  The temp does his office work in his homeland Down Under until the winds blow him and his ambitions up to New York City, where more of the same awaits him… as well as a series of classes in a prestigious Manhattan acting academy.  And that, as they say, is that.  The only mention of Mr. Coward is in regard to his canon of compositions and the fulfillment that it brings to our genial hero, Jason Henderson.  

Perfection.

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU In an industry where performers collect in a binder (or a desktop folder) the songs of a famous artist and cobble them together into a show that may or may not contain cohesiveness, singing out with no emotional associations to the composer or resonance to the material, Jason Henderson has created a right and proper cabaret show that tells the audience who he is, what he does, and how much he loves Noël Coward’s words and music.  It is tangible, it is believable, and it is as entertaining as any cabaret show could hope to be. It is so nice (correction:  SO.  NICE.) to see a right and proper cabaret show done the way it should be. Jason Henderson has crafted a script that is at times economical, at others replete, and always with a laugh poised on the precipice of his mind.  The humor is built into the script but it is expertly delivered with dry timing that hangs in the air, making you hungry for it.  You lean into it.  You long for it.  You know it’s coming, and BAM, the laugh arrives.  It is a skill that is, in Mr. Henderson’s hands, both intelligent and emotional, and he, the Pied Piper of Cabaret, takes the audience by the hand, leads them to the laugh, and lets them drink of it.  And all of the talent, both acting and singing, is aided mightily by Jason’s irresistible Kiwi accent and his natty fashion sense - it is all very much a part of the Henderson aesthetic, and it is working for him the way Givenchy worked for Hepburn and Halston worked for Minnelli.  Jason Henderson has a thing, he has a style, he has a flair, he has a stamp, and it will help make him always recognizable as an artist and as a personality.  Personality, he’s got.  And art, he’s got.  Buckets of it.

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

When creating a script for an honest-to-goodness cabaret show, an artist has to work meticulously to meld the story into the songs, especially when the songs are pre-existing works of art being shoehorned into a new story.  Once that rounding up of refrain and repartee has been structured, the artist must, then, deliver the goods.  With Musical Director extraordinaire, Christopher Denny, working on his charts and providing him with his on-the-spot accompaniment, Jason Henderson is able to relax and give his all to The Master Noël, performing his own immaculate versions of Coward’s compositions like “Someday I’ll Find You” and “I’ll See You Again” - versions that allow Jason Henderson to be the storyteller, the stylist, and gatekeeper to the tradition.  Jason Henderson takes his time, he does not rush, he lets it all happen organically, doing a marvelous job on all of the numbers, excelling particularly at those famous Coward comedy numbers.  Henderson has an enviable understanding of the exact level of presentation and reservation for songs like “Why Do The Wrong People Travel?” and, of course, “I Went To A Marvelous Party” (although, with his accent and panache, it might be fun to hear the version using the word BEEN in place of WENT, and, natrually, with that over-emphasized BEEEEEEEEN... just for fun).   Special highlights for this writer were the Jason Henderson performances of “World Weary” and “Sail Away” that seemed to sit in his sweet spot, both vocally and emotionally, but it would not be off the mark to say that the entire performance is pretty darn well perfect.  He is a charmer of a man, a proficient of a performer, and he, most certainly, has the goods to make it in the industry, especially if he continues to write and perform in so precise and professional a manner.  He has an unusually strong yet quiet stillness about him, choosing, most of the time, to simply stand at the mic, telling the tales, singing the stories, and connecting to the audience.  One wonders if that is his natural instinct or something that director Barry Kleinbort helped him to cultivate.  Whatever the case may be, it is extremely effective, allowing all of the storytelling to fill the space and flow out to the audience, an audience that Mr. Henderson held, rapt, in the palm of his hand.  Soon, hopefully very soon, Jason Henderson will hold an entire community in the palm of his hand.  He is good enough to do it, and he is worthy of it.  Jason Henderson is an original who is committed to his originality, and, as everyone knows, the world worships the original.  So, friends, here comes Henderson.

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU Jason Henderson will play Getting To Noël You at Don't Tell Mama on January 24th at 7 pm, February 11th at 4 pm, and March 23rd at 7 pm .  Find information and reservations on the Don't Tell Mama website HERE.

Visit the Jason Henderson website HERE.

Photos by Stephen Mosher

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU

Review: Jason Henderson Charms Don't Tell Mama Audience With GETTING TO NOEL YOU



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