There are many things to do at this festive time of year but seeing and hearing a Christmas concert by James Barbour has to be near the top of the list. Mr. Barbour is a top leading man on Broadway; in fact, he will be rehearsing shortly for a new musical, Rebecca, which will open next year.
Barbour started his holiday concerts back in 2008, launching them at the famous Sardi’s restaurant. It was a huge success. He repeated the holiday concerts in 2009 in both New York and Los Angeles. In 2010 he expanded the concerts to six but in 2011 went back to two because he had a new baby with his wife, fellow performer Dana Stackpole, whom he met when they performed Carousel together at Lincoln Center. James is constantly in demand on Broadway, best known for his work in A Tale of Two Cities which earned him award nominations from Broadway World, Outer Circle, and Drama Desk.
Barbour has one of those amazingly rich baritone voices – think Robert Goulet – but he can act as well. Because he is a good actor he can get away with using his powerful voice even in an intimate setting like the gorgeous Coterie inside the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel. (The Coterie is located in the fancy Twist Restaurant which features exotic drinks and a delicious California-eclectic menu, designed for sharing.)
Barbour started his concert with “It’s the Most Wonderful Day of the Year” followed by “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home.” He showed us his sense of humor by doing a segment on Jim Nabors (with a dead-on impersonation) and the classic Hawaiian Christmas song “Mele Kalikimaka,” as well as singing “Dreidel” for Hannukah and a group participation rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
As is his habit, he invited along several guests, including the well-known songwriter and pianist Bettie Ross who treated us to one of her compositions, “December.” His other guests were Michael Duff, Los Angeles Music Award winner for Best Adult Contemporary Male Vocalist; MacKenzie Mauzy from Next To Normal; and John Arthur Green who recently toured as “Riff” in West Side Story.
Barbour ended his concert with beautiful renditions of “O Holy Night,” “Believe,” and “Silent Night.” The concert was also celebrating the release of his new CD Bring Me Giants which features a lot of the really strong declaratory songs from Camelot, Man of La Mancha, and Les Miserables, plus Dennis DeYoung’s “Who Will Love This Child,” to name a few. It is a very powerful album and well worth the purchase.
James Barbour performed his Christmas show at The Coterie on Dec. 16 and 17. Looking forward to next time.