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(The Cabaret Alternative to Holiday Radio!)
Stage 773, Chicago, IL, December 18, 2015

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes



In Fa La Frickin’ La (The Cabaret Alternative to Holiday Radio!), tenor Kevin Wood offered a musical smorgasbord of holiday songs. In the first five numbers, he led with comedy. “The Twelve Days After Christmas” by Fred Silver relates how the partridge is shot, the turtle dove is strangled, and the French hens are reduced to a tasty chicken soup, while the human beings are squabbling. We all related well to “Holiday Lament”—AKA—“The Fruitcake Song” (words by Laurence Holtzman and Felicia Needleman; music by Mark Wherry) as Wood, sporting formidable fruitcake chapeau, related why “nobody likes a fruitcake.” “Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire” (Yes, a parody to the Mel Tormé and Robert Wells “The Christmas Song”). Just when it seemed that Fa La Frickin’ La needed a tender moment, Wood delivered well “Hannukah Miracle” (Gordon and Richards), a rare Hannukah ballad positing that the real Hannukah miracle is love. Wood found the core within “If You Love Me, Don’t Feed Me,” with a plea that the continuous pusher of culinary delights stop doing so. Wood’s interpretive chops were particularly on point in David Friedman’s “The Truth About Christmas,” reflecting that while that holiday brings its share of stress and family tension, it carries a sense of connection to our fellow humans. We enjoyed familiar holiday favorites in the pairing of “Hard Candy Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” The classically trained Wood has more vibrato than is typically found in cabaret and may wish to consider fewer extensions. That said, he has come far from his early cabaret offerings to become a most effective storyteller. Music direction by Beckie Menzie hit just the right note.

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