A charming, talented singer with a desire to please, cabaret artist Richard Holbrook has brought his “The Many Moods of Christmas” show to Don’t Tell Mama, which I caught last night (November 26). Holbrook presents a seasonal program, not just Christmas staples, and even injects some satire into his repertoire.
At the outset Holbrook establishes his tone and approach with a medley built upon “I Happen to Like New York.” He has a very youthful looking face, and his delivery oozes enthusiasm and sincerity. He gets profoundly into his selections, and the lyrics are always crispy-clear, with their meaning coming through sharply.
In short, Holbrook is very likable and very accomplished, which becomes apparent to his audience as in good voice he entertainingly ranges through broad territory. Occasionally he weaves in autobiographical notes that help you get to know him.
His “Silver Bells” and “Colored Lights” are especialy effective, and so is “Glow Worm.” One of my favorites turned out to be the schizophrenic “Confessions of a New Yorker (Hate-Love New York)," a witty assembly of pros and cons, but adding up to a love affair with the city.
Holbrook plunges into jazz with “Cool Yule,” with music and lyrics by Steve Allen and additional lyrics by Eric Kornfeld. The funniest song is the witty “The Twelve Days After Christmas,” a parody with words and music by Frederick Silver, which Holbrook performs with delight.
Overall, Holbrook provides a generous helping of expertly sung selections that make for an enjoyable cabaret experience. At the end he gets more into the yuletide spirit with his wish to all, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Excellent musical backing is provided by the Tom Nelson Trio, with Nelson, Holbrook’s musical director, at the piano, Tom Kirschmer on bass and Peter Grant on drums. You can catch Holbrook during December—Dec. 3 at 8:30 p.m., Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 8:30 p.m. At Don’t Tell Mama, 313 West 46th Street. Phone: 212-757-0788. Reviewed November 27, 2017.