Richard Holbrook : We Need a Little Christmas Now…And How

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Richard Holbrook

We Need a Little Christmas Now…And How

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, December 20, 2021

Reviewed by Ron Forman

Richard Holbrook
Photo: Jeffrey Hornstein

As Richard Holbrook walked on stage at Don’t Tell Mama, I jokingly remarked to the patron sitting next to me, “Holbrook is the last elegant man.” As always, he was impeccably attired in a tuxedo. The look is perfect for his very classy performing style. The show was an eclectic mix of old and new; popular and obscure, happy, sad, and sometimes even funny songs. Holbrook pays careful attention to each lyric. His body language and facial expressions add meaning to every number. Although this show was prepared before to the passing of Stephen Sondheim, it ironically contained five of his songs. There was also a heart-felt mini tribute to Leslie Bricusse.

The Tom Nelson Trio worked nicely behind Holbrook, with Nelson occasionally joining him on vocals.

Holbrook opened with a medley of “Happy Holidays” and “We Need a Little Christmas,” beginning slowly but building to a lively climax. Among the highlights of this 90-minute show were two songs about Christmas in New York City, “It’s Always Christmas in New York” (Ronny Whyte/Roger Schorr) and the very funny “Confessions of a New Yorker (Hate-Love New York)” (Portia Nelson). Holbrook dramatically performed Charles Aznavour’s “Quiet Love.” A lovely version of “Our Town” led into a lively medley of Sammy Cahn holiday songs, beginning with “Pocketful of Miracles” and ending with “The Christmas Waltz.” He displayed his flair for performing a funny song with “Too Fat for the Chimney” (Irving Gordon). The Sondheim medley “No One Is Alone” and “Not While I’m Around” was especially moving. Holbrook displayed his jazzy side by closing with a “Holiday Jazz Medley” of four popular holiday songs as performed by Mel Tormé. The encore was a tribute to Bricusse—a medley of “Crazy World” and “Beautiful Things.

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.