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That Time Of The Year: Getting Through The Holidays

I believe it was Betty Comden who said that writing an original musical revue was really quite simple.  All you had to do was come up with two dozen ideas and develop them all from scratch.  Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman, co-lyricists and conceivers of That Time Of The Year, the terrifically funny new musical revue playing at The York, have kicked in a few more than two dozen ideas for their Christmas/Hanukkah celebration, resulting in a smart, tuneful and completely winning holiday fare.  While not inappropriate for the kids, this is one for the grown-up table, spoofing all the dreaded stress that comes every December, like trying not to embarrass yourself at multiple holiday parties, keeping family gatherings civil, buying the right present for your better half and trying not to gain weight while everyone's throwing food in your direction.  There's even a singing and tap dancing dreidel and a trio of harmonizing fruitcakes.

 

With music by seven separate composers (Sanford Marc Cohen, Nicholas Levin, Donald Oliver, Kyle Rosen, Brad Ross, Mark Wherry and Wendy Wilf) the score glides from jazz to blues to light rock, but always in cabaret/showtune style.  The attractive, strong singing cast members (Bridget Beirne, Kerri Jill Garbis, Erin Maguire, Jonathan Rayson and Nick Verina) all project a smart, urban sense of comedy as directed and choreographed by Annette Jolles.  James Morgan's silvery white and gold set, Terese Wadden's occasionally kooky costume pieces and Chris Robinson's lighting all provide perfect giftwrapping.

 

The lighthearted songs cover a multitude of holiday scenarios:  A guy who was raised to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas struggles to find a mate who will embrace both sides of his religious upbringing, a sexually frustrated Mrs. Claus tries to vamp her hubby into staying home for the holiday, an Andrews Sisters style ensemble fawns over Judah Maccabee and a Jewish couple gets hitch on December 25th at their favorite Chinese restaurant.

 

The more tender moments include a mother's memories of her own mother as she passes along the tradition of cooking latkes with her daughter, a lullaby sung by Mary to baby Jesus where we see them as any other mother and child, and a stirring, dramatic ballad where a Jewish grandfather recalls his childhood memories of 1930's Hanukkahs in Berlin.

 

Cabaret singers will want to see That Time Of The Year to pick up the perfect encore for their December gigs.  Audiences will want to see it for a perfectly swell night of holiday wit and warmth.

 

Photos by Carol Rosegg:  Top:  Nick Verina, Bridget Beirne, Jonathan Rayson, Erin Maguire and Kerri  Jill Garbis

Bottom:  Jonathan Rayson, Bridget Beirne, Nick Verina, Erin Maguire and Kerri Jill Garbis



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From This Author Michael Dale