Just Do Art! Holidays, 2011
A SWINGING BIRDLAND CHRISTMAS
Like a modern day Ed Sullivan — but with charisma and vocal talent — our favorite cabaret impresario Jim Caruso holds court every Monday night at Birdland, as he gleefully emcees “Cast Party.” The long-running cabaret-themed open mic features newcomers, Broadway babies and living legends. Throughout, smooth crooner Caruso and the unreasonably talented pianist Billy Stritch keep things moving with an easy, breezy brew of satire and sincerity.
That chemistry bodes very well for “A Swinging Birdland Christmas.” Return with Caruso and Stritch to those thrilling days of yesteryear — when seasonal specials from showbiz veterans lit up the small screen. Along for the sleigh ride is the equally compelling Klea Blackhurst (whose comedic chops can be consumed by watching her on the IFC channel’s “The Onion News Network”). The amiable trio will perform swinging arrangements of “Christmas Waltz,” Kay Thompson’s “Holiday Season,” “Sleigh Ride,” “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” and other favorites. Bonus track: Stritch, on piano, is joined by the other members of The Birdland Jazz Quartet (John Hart on guitar, Paul Gil on bass, Carmen Intorre on drums).
Tues., Dec. 20 through Sun., Dec. 25. All shows at 6pm (except Dec. 25, at 7pm & 10pm). At Birdland (315 W. 44 St.). For tickets ($30 cover, $10 food/drink minimum), call 212-581-3080 or visit birdlandjazz.com. Also visit jim-caruso.com, billystritch.com and kleablackhurst.com.
HEDDA LETTUCE: “LETTUCE REJOICE 2011!”
Scott Thompson, as Buddy Cole (in a Kids in the Hall sketch), once pointed out that, “An angry drag queen is scarier than a Minotaur.” That being said, it’s worth noting that when the divine Hedda Lettuce gets her dander up, the wit that flows forth from her focused rage is like a little prayer. So don’t think for a minute that all this seasonal cheer and goodwill toward men is going to mellow Hedda.
Reading the press release for her upcoming show (“Lettuce Rejoice 2011!”) is like taking a Master Class in how to offend and amuse. In Hedda’s world, beloved Christmas classics like “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Do You Hear What I Hear” get a bad girl makeover — and emerge as “Here Comes Tranny Clause” and “Do You Think That He’s Queer.” Later in the show, other bitter little pills to swallow include Hedda’s homage to the recently departed Amy Winehouse. “Too soon perhaps,” Hedda wonders aloud. “Not for the sardonic Miss Lettuce,” she immediately replies. If that’s not enough for you, consider this: Each night, one of the faithful comers will win a basket filled with Boy Butter Lubricant! Perhaps the happy winner will put that provocative tub down long enough to catch Hedda as she hosts her monthly screening of a classic movie (at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas).
NICOLE RENAUD’S “CHRISTMAS STAR”
She’s French, she’s a soprano, she’s an accordionist and she has a Christmas-themed show. For most artists, and audiences, that would be enough. But Nicole Renaud has at least two more marquee value appeals up her sleeve: Her show is a multimedia concert — and her accordion is actually a “lincordian” (a “one-of-a-kind luminous transparent accordion designed by British artist-engineer Paul Etienne Lincoln”). Under a star-filled sky, and with the help of violinist Alex Tseytlin, Renaud promises a journey through her favorite holiday music (including some French and international Christmas carols that will be new to many in the audience). The multimedia tricks of Parisian video designer Jacques Perdigues and special costume lighting by Charles Kouzoujian provide additional visual splash to the surreal proceedings.
Mon., Dec. 19, at 7:30pm (a complimentary hot wine will be served after the show). At Theaterlab (137 W. 14th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). For tickets ($15), visit theaterlabnyc.com. Also visit nicolerenaud.com.
– BY SCOTT “Stocking Stuffer” STIFFLER