Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Well I am all lit up like a Christmas Tree, and stuffed like a knish with Holiday cheer. (Incidentally, I also have my middle finger in the air like a Menorah. The commute into the city was especially hideous this morning. I know it's a busy season, but Jesus. Did you people multiply over the weekend? Get the EFF outta my way.)...Aaaaaand we're back to Holiday Cheer: Why am I all aglow, you ask? Is it because I've been drinking heavily before noon? - No, just the usual two-drink minimum. Is it because I'm pregnant again? - God, I hope not. Is it because I exfoliated this morning and my already radiant, porcelain-like skin is shimmering with exceptional brilliance, illuminating all that surrounds me like the North Star? - Yes, partially. But not the answer we're looking for. It is because I'm still beaming from Christine Ebersole. Her "Winter Wonderland" Concert with the incredible Billy Stritch was recently at Birdland and I was there...wearing my usual -
(see photo below):
Christine, on the other hand, had ditched the revolutionary costume for today, and was full swing in a snazzy little black number. She looked absolutely gorgeous. Although I almost didn't recognize her, sans the pantyhose and shmata on her head. It was a nice change.
Along with her jazzy ensemble came a song list to match, which kicked off with the perfect jazz combo of "Winter Weather/I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" and ranged from the show's title song and other Christmas classics (courtesy of the Jewish people who wrote most of them; a realization which struck both performers while the show was already in progress) to standards featured on their upcoming CD, Sunday In New York, to showtunes from Oklahoma, The Sound of Music and even an encore from Sweeney Todd. In a section of her unique spin on Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin's "My Ship" Christine put hand to mouth and played a "human trumpet" solo through her palm (a skill she's admittedly been honing since childhood) that could have easily held its own in any Broadway orchestra pit. And I'm glad Ms. Ebersole has such a fallback, should her stab at a career on the stage not work out. It also saved Birdland the added expense of hiring a horn section.
Of course, no concert by the two-time Tony Award Winner would have been complete without homage to the ship that sailed her to such victory, Grey Gardens.The medley began with Billy Stritch's piano solo of "Another Winter" which was so exquisite, I nearly forgave his co-star for not singing along. Stritch channeled the same angst and heartbreak with which Christine so brilliantly delivers the song, and I could almost hear its haunting lyrics being sung by the Baby Grand as he played. Ebersole then took the mic for a somewhat bluesier version of the musical's Act-One finale, "Will You".
The duo has an infectious chemistry onstage that mildly recalls Ana Geystyer and Will Ferrell's hilarious Middle School choral directors from SNL. Only instead of botched pop anthems, they delivered nothing short of a musical Christmas miracle (Music & Lyrics by Jews). I could scan a thesaurus all day for words that mean BRILLIANT to describe Christine Ebersole, but none would do her justice. She is a rare and endangered species, and if you're ever given the opportunity to see her on Broadway, in concert, or at the deli buying milk, grab it! Thank Heaven she's here - Honest.
CLICK HERE for BroadwayWorld's complete photo coverage of the event.
Photograph of Randy Rainbow and Christine Ebersole by Mark Rupp