Carole J. Bufford & Eric Yves Garcia: A Christmas Carole & A New Year’s Yves!

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Carole J. Bufford and Eric Yves Garcia

A Christmas Carole & A New Year’s Yves!
An Old-Fashioned Holiday Special

Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC, December 7, 2015

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

Photo: Russ Weatherford
Photo: Russ Weatherford

From the look and sound of things, Carole J. Bufford and Eric Yves Garcia’s second annual holiday special will not be their last.

Bufford, a pint-sized dynamo with a voice that kills, joins urbane mischief-maker Garcia creating merry musical mayhem at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. If the songs follow last year’s pattern and the jokes have been heard before, well, folks, that’s what tradition is all about. Expect the familiar, but appreciate the sparkling twists and turns that talent (and Bufford’s green sequined dress) can contribute.

Before another word, there is a third member in these festivities and he is pianist/singer Matt Baker, who fills in with quips and adds sensitive and witty support to Bufford’s and Garcia’s vocals. On his own, he knocks the show upside down with his creative take on “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (J. Fred Coots/Haven Gillespie), a red-light warning that, “You (really) better watch out!”  He gives the show a jazz-flavored backing with “”Zat You, Santa Claus?” by Jack Fox and a lively “Christmas in New Orleans” (Joe Van Winkle/Richard M. Sherwin).

An imaginative re-viewing of Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” pitted the two performers against each other with petite Bufford threatening, tying up and gagging Garcia, before mixing a suspicious something into his champagne. The gal seems to enjoy her dark side, delivering a “Bad Girls Medley” with Meiko’s “Maybe Next Year (X-Mas Song)” and Joan Osborne’s “What Do Bad Girls Get?

.” Garcia adds a twist to holiday cheer with “(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the Bag” by Irving Taylor/Dudley Brooks/Hal Stanley. Hint – It’s not Macy’s Santa.

Delivering the Judy Garland classic, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Hugh Martin), Bufford commented on the lyric changes demanded by Garland and others who felt the original lyrics were too dark. Martin made some changes: “It may be your last” became “Let your heart be light,” and these new lyrics became the popular version we hear today. While Garcia added his own jazz piano to “Wintry Mix,” a mélange of heat-inspired pop tunes, he is most touching in ballads, such as a smooth rendition of John Meyer’s “After the Holidays.” He can get carried away with silly patter, but delivered a sweet story about his father’s experiences with Christmas trees.

After Bufford’s stunning “O Holy Night” (John Sullivan Dwight/Adolphe Charles Adams), she and Garcia teamed in counterpoint for Irving Berlin’s “All Alone” and Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Years Eve?”

Thinking of next holiday season, you might add this not-so-Old-Fashioned Holiday Special to your traditional must-see list.

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.