This guy really loves putting on a Christmas show, actually more of a party to hear Mr. Lewis tell it. More of a hootenanny really, with different special guests each night. The night I went one of the guests was Joel Crump, a young alum of Kristin Chenoweth’s Broadway Boot Camp, whose rendition of Donnie Hathaway’s “This Christmas” was both charming and charismatic. The other guest was Norm’s cousin, Pastor Bobby Lewis of New Light Baptist Church. Bobby’s given name is Rudolph, so of course they sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and Bobby also did a heartfelt “What A Wonderful World”. (The remaining show on Christmas Eve will feature Julie James, Honey Beavers and Peter Dager).
Lewis is correct: his show is as festive as a party. In the spirit of his own favorite singer, Johnny Mathis, Norm Lewis’s show leans into holiday fun and warmth. It’s not an entirely shallow show – there are dark shadows here and there, especially Marvin Gaye’s socially-conscious “What’s Goin’ On” – but Lewis lays emphasis on Christmas’s pleasures and joys.
And it’s not strictly a Christmas show. Lewis greets the audience while the band played the tune of “Tornado” from The Wiz. Lewis favors the audience with powerful belting several times throughout the evening in showcases like “Home” (also from The Wiz). He also does “The Little Drummer Boy” which in and of itself is a song I don’t love, but music director Joseph Joubert’s arrangement gives it wonderful new life, especially percussionist Perry Cavari’s magnificent playing on a Doumbek drum.
Many of the above songs are available on his Christmas CD The Norm Lewis Christmas Album (available for sale in the lobby!). He closes with the groovy “Why Couldn’t It Be Christmas Every Day” which Mariah Carey was offered but didn’t record. Highly recommended.
For tickets, click here.
To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.