ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
"The Holiday Guys" in Happy Merry Hanu-Mas
By Elyse Sommer
Marc Kudisch is the Jewish half of the "Holiday Guys" now offering New Yorkers a delightfully silly, song and dance filled good time at the York Theatre. The fun loving baritone's Christmas celebrating friend is the nimble-toed Jeffry Denman who is, like Kudisch, an award-winning musical theater veteran.
Kudisch has turned the South Park Guys' satiric ditty "A Lonely Jew on Christmas" on its head. And that's true for every one of the show's more than a dozen songs, (many of which, as Kudisch points out, were written by Jewish songsmiths. The chatty variety show has the sort of improv sensibility that is invariably carefully crafted.
You may think you know most of the songs listed "in no particular order" and supposedly performed strictly as the spirit moves Kudisch and Denman. But trust me, the song arrangements and the way they're presented is a strictly "Holiday Guys" thing.
James Morgan, the York Theater's long time artistic producing director who's also a busy set designer (He also did the set for the above mentioned It's A Wonderful Town, has artfully cluttered the miniscule stage with Christmas trees and menorahs to accommodate the ecumenically open-minded festivities. There's also a cozy fire place, with a blazing video lit fire, comfortable armchairs to accommodate our Guys' casual lounge-about style (Kudish first appears in a Snuggie and then strips down to pajamas).What's more, Morgan has left room for the 3-piece combo led by Timothy Splain to be right on stage,. Miraculously there's also enough space for Denman , who's a modern day Fred Astaire, to do some fancy tap dancing. In fact, in my, he very favorite number, "Put One Foot Before the Other," he gives Kudisch (no slouch as a dancer either) a tap dance lesson.
Besides Splain on the piano, Ritt Henn and Mike Croiter on Bass and percussions, the versatile Guys occasionally play guitars and kazoos and a bongo drum. In another show stopping scene, a celebrity guest is brought on to do a radio play style reading of The Night Before Christmas, with Kudisch and Denman and the band providing the sound effects. On the night I attended, the guest was Tyne Daily. Depending on when you go the reader is likely to be Carson Kressley, Michael Riedel, Bobby Steggert, Ted Chapin or John Weidman.
Theres lots of warm hearted chatter, the jokes and the interactive shtick that presents several audience members with gift wrapped presents whose contents are revealed so they can easily be re-gifted. But this is all window dressing for the show's real creme-de-la-creme element -- the music.
While the show's run time is listed as being approximately 85 minutes, it went on for at least 15 minutes more on the night I attended. This can be attributed to Kudisch and Denman being consummate entertainers who clearly love being on stage and are not stingy with their encores. Their show doesn't come wrapped in a big, fancy package of glitzy stagecraft, but I can't think of a better holiday treat than a ticket to Happy Merry Hanu-Mas at the York where every seat is a good seat.
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free
Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show
Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show