|Breaking News: Christmas Eve – Broadway’s favorite opinionated, heavily accented therapist – dumps Avenue Q husband, out of work stand-up comedian Brian, for a night of one magical, musical rendezvous after another with all her favorite Broadway leading men!
The second annual edition of CHRISTMAS EVE WITH CHRISTMAS EVE was an even greater success than in 2009, with the inimitable Ann Harada returning as her consonant-challenged alter ego singing, dancing and bantering with Broadway’s Stephen Bogardus, Paul Castree, Willy Falk, Jordan Gelber, Mark Kudish, Jose Llana, Howard McGillin, Michael Mindlin, Christopher Sieber, Jason Tam, John Tartaglia and Ryan Watkinson.
Held November 29 at 46th Street’s Midtown Theatre, the sold-out event raised more than $7,000 for BC/EFA while getting the December holiday season off with a musical bang. Conceived and written by Gary Adler, Harada and Alan Muraoka, the evening was directed by Muraoka with choreography by Michael Mindlin and musical direction by Adler.
Miss Saigon’s Willy Falk joined Harada for that long-running hit’s dramatic “The Last Night of the World.” Paul Castree has starred in nine Broadway shows, but the only one Christmas Eve recognized was Footloose. So they cavorted through the audience, playing hide-and-seek while performing Mike “Loverboy” Reno and Ann “Heart” Wilson’s power ballad “Almost Paradise.” Mindlin and Watkinson joined her on the Fosse classic “I Gotcha.”
After confessing the need to shed his nice guy image to Broadway’s favorite therapist, Sieber released his inner wolf, pursing Harada’s Little Red Riding Hood in “Hello Little Girl” from Into the Woods. Another delight was a six-minute version of White Christmas, which teamed her with Stephen Bogardus (star of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas) on the title song, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” and even “Sisters!”
Hurricanes Hardly Happen
Next, Jordan Gelber, as Avenue Q husband Brian, bounded onstage, rudely interrupting his wife’s holiday fantasy. She reluctantly joined him for Fiddler on the Roof’s “Do You Love Me?” With Brian dismissed and her fantasy night restored, Harada showed her range, hitting the impossible high notes on “The Phantom of the Opera,” from Broadway’s longest running show, joined by Broadway’s longest-running Phantom, Howard McGillin.
The evening’s star, whose Broadway credits include 9 to 5, Les Miserables, Seussical and M. Butterfly, showcased more of her vocal range on the final two numbers, a stunning and powerful rendition of the Judy Garland standard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” with all the evening’s leading men singing backup.
The concept for CHRISTMAS EVE WITH CHRISTMAS EVE originated during the New York run of the show. “Gary Adler, our musical director for Avenue Q, suggested it as a good idea for a cabaret,” says Harada, who adds that the idea sort of “sat there” for a few years, until she returned to Avenue Q during its final months on Broadway.
“We thought, ‘the show’s closing so now’s the time to do this,’” Harada says, “Then the show didn’t close. It moved Off-Broadway, but we’re still like ‘this isn’t a bad idea’.” Months of asking friends and tracking down other Broadway favorites led to last year’s sold-out performance. Even more work went into this year’s show, which both Harada and everyone at BC/EFA hopes will become a holiday tradition.
Special thanks to the photographer whose work is represented on this page:
Peter James Zielinski