New CD - Judy's Scary Little Christmas - a Grand Holiday-time Treat

Just released and perfect for that last minute Christmas gift the original L.A. Cast Recording of Judy's Scary Little Christmas. James Webber and David Church's book imagines a holiday special (with a twist) hosted by filmdom's Dorothy herself. After Judy (played with panache by Connie Champagne, who mimics the star ably) welcomes her studio "guests" with a jazzy and just slightly loopy - "Back in Christmas Town" (Joe Patrick Ward's lyrics tweak some of the actress' greatest film roles), the "special guests" start dropping by.

And what an eclectic bunch it is: Bing Crosby, Liberace, Ethel Merman, Richard Nixon, Lillian Hellman and Joan Crawford, each of whom gets an individual number during the course of the show. For instance Lauri Johnson's Merman delivers a comically evocative "Mauna Loa Hula Holiday." This Hawaiian-infused song, like many others in "Judy," can remind one of the cleverness of Musical of Musicals The Musicals!. Even as "The Merm" sings about the sacrifice of a Hawaiian princess, the tune ties in many of her famed performances, with either snippets of melody or lyric references from shows ranging from Annie Get Your Gun to Call Me Madam.

It's difficult to not be amused both by Eric Anderson's opening moments (spoken) as Nixon, but for sheer hilarity it's the duet that Judy forces him to perform with Hellman (Jan Sheldrick). (Let's just say that she's having a difficult time letting go of his part in the HUAC hearings). "Little Christmas" reaches its camp pinnacle in the track "Joan's Bible Story," where the creative team intersperses show biz references with the story of Mary and Joseph.

Not all of the material works as well on disc as one assumes it did in the theater. The pieces for Bing and Liberace are only mildly amusing and one suspects that the piece's supernatural ending had a better payoff on stage. Even so, I've found myself laughing at the show's high points repeatedly for the past few days. I think this is one that will endure for many holidays to come.

-- Andy Propst


Copyright 2005, 2012 James Webber, David Church & Joe Patrick Ward