A Bulldog Christmas Carol

| December 15, 2016

A Bulldog Christmas Carol:
A Night with the Ghosts of Yale Musical Theatre’s
Past, Present and Future

Urban Stages, NYC, December 10, 2016

Reviewed by Victoria Ordin for Cabaret Scenes

Megan Loughran

Megan Loughran

Megan Loughran (pictured) and her partners in crime from the Harvard-Yale Cantata (producer Tom Toce and Musical Director Alex Ratner) put on a terrific show on the penultimate day of Winter Rhythms, the 10-day cabaret festival at Urban Stages produced by Peter Napolitano and Frances Hill, founding artistic director of the theater. A Bulldog Christmas Carol: An Evening with Ghosts of Yale Musical Theatre’s Past, Present, and Future reinforced what two consecutive wins over Harvard made clear: Yale continues to produce exceptional performers one expects to have meaningful, successful careers in musical theater for years to come.

While hardly destined to be a classic, “I Hate Holiday Music” (Lauren Mayer) was nevertheless an apt opening for a show that tempered genuine holiday cheer with self-deprecation and snark. Nate Janis, bundled up in arctic attire, followed with a superb “Siberia” (Cole Porter). Zina Ellis, who graduated just last year, has an luminous voice, but “Closer” (Dean Pitchford/Tom Snow) is a dull song that didn’t show it off. The handsome, charming Miles Jacoby dazzled on the Richard Maltby, Jr./David Shire “I Don’t Remember Christmas,” infusing the lyrics with just the right amount of hurt and anger. Maury Yeston’s “My Grandmother’s Love Letters” is a better song lyrically than melodically and Loughran, with Zach Simao on percussion, did as much with it as possible.

Sam Bolen sang “Christmas in New York,” a collaboration between Toce and the great Harvard composer-lyricist John Forster, with clarity and feeling. It was a nice prelude to the hilarious and sexy “What Would Mrs. Santa Do?” (Andrew Gerle/Maryrose Wood) performed by Mallory Baysek. Her powerful, sharp voice and strong comedic sensibility are perfectly suited to Broadway or major off-Broadway work. The 2011 graduate has a quirky, zany personality and unconventional attractiveness that captivates you the moment she sings her first note. Baysek’s duet with Jacoby, “Boston” (Stephen Feigenbaum/Ryan Marrone/JP Saxe) was the evening’s most serious piece, proving that both are equally comfortable with dramatic and comic material.

“Stab a Penguin” (Mark Sonnenblick/Ben Wexler/Sam Bolen) was the most memorable and imaginative new song of the Bulldog Christmas Carol. I’m not sure whether to be impressed or frightened that the young lyricists wrote a should-be hit song about bird murder. The second most twisted new song was “The Mulberry Avenue Christmas Lights Competition” (Loughran and Benji Goldsmith), about a deranged suburban wife and mother determined to best her irritating neighbors at decorating even if she blows up her marriage and family in the process. Breathless lyrics as much spoken as sung make one glad to live in the city, far away from unhinged suburban women. The show closed with an upbeat ensemble number by Alex Ratner, “Everybody and His Brother.”

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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