John Burns: Christmas with John Burns

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John Burns

Christmas with John Burns

The Duplex, NYC, December 11, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

John Burns

As a diva with a new drive to perform flamboyantly, John Burns took a lot of his own advice from his previous cabaret honoring Shirley Bassey to deliver a punchy Christmas show at The Duplex. One piece of advice was to wear something flashy, and his bedazzled Santa-esque jumpsuit took the cake. His playful style and well-practiced bits allowed for some hilarious moments. For example, every time he said, “I don’t want to be right” in any context, the back-up singers, Holly Dunn and Christine de Frece, sang out “I don’t want to be right!” Also joining in the fun was musical director and pianist William Demaniow, who played well off of Burns’s spontaneity. Brendan McClaskey was on the drums.

Burns kept things moving along, turning from Christmas classic to Christmas classic. First, he “decked the halls” then he came down the chimney in “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller). But after going through a “Winter Wonderland” he freestyled a bit, altering Rodgers and Hammersteins’ “My Favorite Things” into “My Favorite Queens” (David Dreyfus).

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Between the Christmas songs, Burns also recreated a Christmas pageant with audience participation as all of the members of the nativity scene. The laughs would not stop as he and his three wise men selected a Mary, a Joseph, and a host of barn animals.

Up to this point, the show was crisp and good and well deserving of an encore, but the best was yet to come. Burns sang “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” (Theodor Geisel/Albert Hague) in the epic style of Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger.

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” At first, it may have seemed that he was going to reprise the classic Bond song, only to suddenly belt out, “You’re as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch.” The work done by Demaniow and Burns to combine the tune of “Goldfinger” with the lyrics of the most memorable Grinch song created a magical moment.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see