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Stars Sparkle in "A Broadway Christmas"

The holiday spirit shined brightly at Chris Isaacson’s star-studded holiday concert, “A Broadway Christmas,” presented at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood for two performances only on December 20. 

Nobody assembles a stellar roster of talent as effectively as impresario extraordinaire Isaacson. His cabarets and concerts always glisten with top-notch production values, knockout musical accompaniment, and smashing renditions of great songs.

Leading off with a rocking rendition of “All I Want For Christmas” by a terrific quintet (Diana DeGarmo, Ellen Dowling, Sheila Karls, Danielle Sadd, and Cristina Ballestero), the evening quickly kicked into high gear. The vivacious Kelli Provart’s take on the Judy Garland classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” set a warmly nostalgic tone. It led the way for a varied array of numbers, ranging from poignant (“Hard Candy Christmas” from “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” by a superb sextet; and a haunting “Blue Christmas” from the aptly named Karissa Noel) to romantically sweet (Will Collyer and Caitlin O’Brient’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside”) to sizzling Lesli Margherita in a showstopping “Santa Baby."

SoCal Stages_blogIn a salute to “The Jersey Boys” and the Four Seasons, the talented team of Jim Holdridge, William Martinez, Brandon Alameda, and Kevin Wood offered a rocking and rolling medley of Santa songs, punctuated by Alameda’s killer falsetto. Leave it to superstar Sam Harris (in a dazzling Christmas tree costume, no less) to deliver laughs as well as full-throttled passion, as he segued from “It’s Not Easy Being Green” to “I Was Born This Way” to the classic hymn “O Holy Night.” DeGarmo and Ace Young sparkled in their duet to a charming new song, “Christmas Is.”

A bonus at the 10 p.m. show was appearances by three performers from the “Wicked” tour at the nearby Pantages Theatre: Kyle Dean Massey in the comfy classic “The Christmas Song,” Kevin MacMahon in the achingly melancholic “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and Mariand Torre’s non-seasonal but very welcome rendition of the knockout power ballad “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.”

Not to be overlooked were additional great performances by Micah McCain, Jake Simpson, Arielle Jacobs, Yvette Cason, Derek Rocchini, Carla Renata, as well as music-director/pianist Brent Crayon and his musicians: Matt Lucich on drams and Carter Wallace on bass.

No need to wait till next holiday season for more of Isaacson’s musical magic. More great stuff is on the way.

--Les Spindle

Photo by Tony DiMaio
Courtesy of Chris Isaacson Presents

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