A Swingin’ Christmas

Reviewed at Crazy Coqs by Barrie Jerram for Musical Theatre Review

Returning to this venue after a sell-out run last year, Gary Williams gets the audience to join him an old-fashioned Christmas. And what a party he creates.

He provides a veritable potpourri with seasonable songs – not just old chestnuts but some lesser known ones – non-festive standards and a rich helping of comedy.

Williams brings his own easy style to familiar numbers, tweaking them a little and often raising them to a new dimension. His ‘Both Sides Now’ is delivered with such emotional tension that one almost feels an intruder on an intimate moment.

Another standout number is Frank Loesser’s ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve’. His sensitive treatment of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ brought tears to the eyes of more than one member of the audience as thoughts turned to lost friends and loved ones.

But it is not all sadness. This consummate artist, accompanied by Matt Regan on piano, works the room well as he roams amongst the patrons, entertaining them with his cheeky patter that avoids any saccharine falseness. He has a nice touch when it comes to comic anecdotes and he raises the roof with the hilarious ‘Silly Slang Song’ – a wonderful number that laments the abuse of the English language whereby longstanding words have now taken on a different meaning.

There is also a nostalgic trip back to 1968 where the audience is encouraged to join in with the Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ and ‘Those Were The Days’. The singalong continues when Williams returns to the festive classics that conclude with a rousing ‘12 Days of Christmas’.

Anyone exhausted and stressed by Christmas shopping should see this show providing as it does, the perfect antidote.