Lisa Howard’s (It Shoulda Been You, Escape to Margaritaville) new CD “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” is a must have for everyone who loves holiday music that is festive, eclectic and full of life. Lisa’s clear tones are lilting, textured and beautiful. Her vocals are equally matched by her orchestrator, arranger and musical director Michael Shaieb. “The House Where I Grew Up At Christmas” by Shaieb is sure to become a classic.
I must admit I am addicted to the title song, wonderfully arranged and sung like the score to a film. Each of these songs has Lisa’s and Michael’s take, which is magic. I also love that she included Joni Mitchell’s “River,” which adds a haunting element.
“Sleigh Ride,””Christmas Wrapping” and “Under The Mistletoe ” all feature guest vocalist Derrick Baskin, original cast member and Tony award-nominee for Ain’t Too Proud. This pairing is perfectly suited and I would love to see a concert of these two.
Lisa’s interpretations are well worth countless listening as there isn’t a song that you will wish she included. This CD is a great pairing of old and new classics, with little unknown treasures like presents to unwrap.
Lisa and Michael have been collaborating for years and it shows on this CD. They dreamed of producing their own Christmas albumin thanks to the pandemic, this jewel was born. Lisa has said she chose the songs for the album by envisioning that they were the score to any one of her many favorite holiday classics and she achieved this pairing..
This is a holiday album that you’ll want to listen to over and over.
The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year Track List:
- It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (Edward Pola, George Wyle)
2. Santa Tell Me (Ariana Grande-Butera, Savan Kotecha, Ilya Salmanzadeh)
3. Sleigh Ride feat. Derrick Baskin (Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish)
4. The House Where I Grew Up At Christmas (Michael Shaieb)
5. All I Want For Christmas Is You (Walter Afanasieff, Mariah Carey)
6. I’ll Be Home For Christmas/Home For The Holidays (Kim Gannon, Walter Kent/Buck Ram/Robert Allen, Al Stillman)
7. Christmas Wrapping feat. Derrick Baskin(Chris Butler)
8. We Need A Little Christmas (Jerry Herman)
9. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin)
10. Last Christmas (George Michael)
11. River (Joni Mitchell)
12. Under The Mistletoe feat. Derrick Baskin (Kelly Clarkson, Aben Eubanks)
13. What Christmas Means To Me (Anna Gaye, George Gordy, Allen Story)
14. Holly Jolly Christmas/Here Comes Santa Claus (Johnny Marks/Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman)
The album was released by FatLab Music and was released on all digital music platforms Saturday, November 20th.
Ms. Howard appears at Feinstein’s/54Below, 254 West 54th Street with Mr. Shaieb and his trio in “What Christmas Means To Me” on Sunday, December 12th at 7pm.
Michael John LaChiusa and Graciela Daniele The Gardens of Anuncia
Andréa Burns, Mary Testa, Priscilla Lopez, and Eden Espinosa. Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Michael John LaChiusa’s The Gardens of Anuncia is based on the early life of Broadway legend Graciela Daniele The two have been collaborators on several projects including Hello Again (1994), Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1995), Marie Christine (1999), and Bernarda Alba (2006). This is his love letter to her, complete with a tango-infused score.
This memory musical is directed and choreographed by Daniele, which is surprising as we miss the more intricate dancing moments.
We meet Anuncia (Priscilla Lopez), as she tends to her country garden in America, reminiscing about her girlhood in Juan Perón’s Argentina from 1940s-50s as she trys to avoid attending an awards ceremony, where she’ll be honored with a Lifetime Achievement. Instead, she reflects on her family and childhood, as she brings back her Mami (Eden Espinoza), her Granmama (Mary Testa), and her aunt Tia (Andréa Burns), hoping to honor all the women who supported her journey in becoming an artist. Her distraction is she is looking around her garden for the proper place to bury Tia’s ashes. We see a young Anuncia (Kalyn West), as she is shaped by three very different women. From Tia she learns imagination and music, her Mami enrolls her in ballet class to fix her flat feet and her Granmama gives her drama.
In the meantime Anuncia and a deer (the fabulous Tally Sessions) dance, talk and romance.
Highlights of the show include Eden Espinosa, who will be on Broadway later this season in Lempicka, tango “MalaGueña,”. Andréa Burns makes us love “Listen to the Music” and Mary Testa’s one-liners and description of her secret courtship with Anuncia’s grandfather (Enrique Acevedo) in “Miss The Man” give the show some oomph.
The design of the garden by Mark Wendland and the lighting, by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, give the show it’s magical look.
The Gardens of Anuncia shows the love of the collaborators and of the women who shaped our lives.
The Gardens of Anuncia: Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center through December 31.
Headed To Walter Reade With Camp4Heroes To Bring Christmas To Our Vets: A Pit Stop In Washington DC Part 1
My friends and I arrived in Bethesda, Maryland to go to Walter Reade with Camp4Heroes to bring Christmas To Our Vets. The day was extremely foggy.
I had always wanted to see this statue ever since I saw Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
Not really wanting to walk up a ton of stairs, we decided to use the elevator to the memorial, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as there is an exhibit on Lincoln in this space.
The Lincoln Memorial honors the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Henry Bacon is the memorial’s architect and Daniel Chester French designed the large interior statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln (1920), which was carved in marble by the Piccirilli brothers.
Jules Guerin painted the interior murals, and the epitaph above the statue was written by Royal Cortissoz. Dedicated on May 30, 1922, it is one of several memorials built to honor an American president.
In getting to the memorial you pass the most amazing statues. These actually stand guard to the bridges to The National Mall.
Around the exterior are these.
What is the most surprising thing, is that these statues, The National Mall, Lincoln, the Washington Monument and other buildings that surround the area, are gigantic. We see the crowds at The National Mall and we actually do not comprehend how many people are actually there. Think New Years Eve in Times Square and triple it.
The National Mall also including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and World War II Memorial. More on those tomorrow.
Avengers Tower Sets Meet And Greet With Signing
C. B. Cebulski, Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, and The LEGO Group Senior Graphic Designer Mark Tranter will be at the Fifth Ave LEGO Store this Friday, December 1st from 5pm-6pm signing the Avengers Tower set—the most iconic building in the Avengers Universe, with 5,201 pieces and an all-star cast of 31 figures.
The Avengers Tower, formerly known as Stark Tower, was a high-rise building complex located in Manhattan. Constructed by Tony Stark, the tower was powered by an Arc Reactor that made it capable of running itself for over a year. The top ten floors housed the research and development initiatives.
Following the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D., Stark Tower became the main headquarters of the Avengers. However, after the Ultron Offensive, Stark refurbished a Stark Industries warehouse upstate into the Avengers Compound to use as their primary base while Avengers Tower was repurposed for Stark Industries’ use. In the aftermath of the Avengers Civil War, Stark sold the tower and moved all of its equipment to the Avengers Compound.
By 2024, the tower, under its new ownership, had gone through extensive construction and renovation.
God Comes Back To Times Square
On Monday, November 27, the 2023 global Light the World Giving Machines campaign showed Christ’s light and love. Three machines were unwrapped in Times Square.
The theme for these machines is “Let Your Light Shine,” words the Savior of the world spoke to His followers. Giving Machines provide a unique path to spread His light — in your community or in a faraway country. Instead of buying something for yourself, your purchase is a donation for someone in need.
As we start the process of hoping there will be greater light in the world, we invite all to light the world,” said Elder David Buckner, an Area Seventy. “Today we start that as a process of hope and promise and joy that the world so desperately needs.”
Giving Machines, now in their seventh year, offer a unique way to serve and care for others. Instead of buying something for yourself, your purchase is a donation for someone in need. Across machines in all locations are a combined 1,200 different items requested by carefully screened and reputable local, national and international nonprofit organizations. These include meals, groceries, shelter, clothing, healthcare, education, bedding, hygiene kits, job and career training, crops and livestock (such as chickens, goats, pigs, ducks, sheep and beehives). Patrons can type in 777 to purchase one of everything in a machine.
The Giving Machines are open for business and have move to their permanent Manhattan holiday location: The Church of Our Savior at 59 Park Ave. (at 38th Street). They will be available through January 1, 2024. In total, Giving Machines are available in 60 additional locations in seven countries.
Besides the machines, 15 digital displays will be in Times Square featuring Christmas messages from the Church of Jesus Christ. These messages will include the birth of Jesus Christ and gratitude for local interfaith leaders and charities who are working with the Church to help those in need.
The nine participating national and global nonprofits are:
- African Girls Hope Foundation
- American Red Cross
- Church World Service
- iDE (International Development Enterprise)
- Lifting Hands International
- Mentors International
The Church and UNICEF have collaborated on various projects to help children and mothers around the world. The American Red Cross of Greater New York, mission is to alleviate human suffering during times of disasters and emergencies. They provides 40% of the blood supply in the U.S. CARE has projects in over 111 countries and reaches more than 170 million people annually. The Church World Service, said her organization is focus on immigration legal fees, offer menstrual health products to help women and more.
In total, more than 250 local, national and global nonprofits are participating this year — more than all previous years combined.
It is time to bring light to what is admittedly a very dark world.
The Broadway Green Alliance Is Turning 15
This fall, the Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) celebrates its 15th year as an industry-wide initiative that educates, motivates, and inspires the entire theatre community and its patrons to adopt environmentally friendlier practices on Broadway and beyond. To mark this milestone, the BGA will host a free celebratory “bike-powered” concert and birthday bash on Monday, October 23rd in the New Amsterdam Room at the New Amsterdam Theatre (214 W 42nd Street) which will be streamed live on Stars in the House.
The in-person event begins at 5:00pm ET with limited tickets available, and the live-stream concert begins at 6:30pm ET on the Stars in the House YouTube channel at youtube.com/starsinthehouse.
Broadway performers and hosts joining the event include Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley (Stars in the House), Tony Award Nominee Kerry Butler (Beetlejuice), Tony Award Nominee Anika Larsen (Almost Famous), Tony Award Nominee Kenita R. Miller (For Colored Girls…), Tony Award Nominee Adam Pascal (Rent), Mara Davi (A Chorus Line), Jenn Gambatese (Mrs. Doubtfire), Jackie Hoffman (Xanadu), James T. Lane (Chicago), Patti Murin (Frozen), Rachel Webb (& Juliet), and more to be announced.
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