A scan of December theater listings serves as a reminder of the holiday season. MusicalFare Theatre offers a unique seasonal show, "The Holiday Guys in Happy Merry Hanu-Mas."
The show is working its way through the Northeast before heading to New York for two weeks Off-Broadway. It features two Broadway stars, Marc Kudisch and Jeffry Denman.
"There's something about the show in the way that Jeff and Mark approach it that transcends religious differences," said MusicalFare Artistic and Executive Director Randall Kramer.
"You're looking at the holidays from two different perspectives, from a Jewish perspective, from a Christian perspective, and it gets to the essence of it all. It does it in such a light and funny way, but also a heartfelt way."
Though he's worked on Broadway for many years, Jeffry Denman still carries a lot of Buffalo with him. He grew up in Kenmore, went to St. Joe's and graduated from UB.
But it was during his time in a major Broadway production of White Christmas that he envisioned the possibilities for Happy Merry Hanu-Mas.
"I saw how the Christmas machine starts to work and shows get more and more focused on the bottom line and less and less on the heart of what the holiday is really truly about. So Mark and I wanted to create a show that was the antithesis of all those big, overly sentimental holiday shows," Denman said.
"There's nothing precious about our show. We talk directly to the audience. We celebrate what we love about the holiday and what we really think the holiday is really about. That's being together, laughing, singing, dancing if we have to, and, of course, drinking. That's what we think the holidays are really about."
Last year, the Holiday Guys sampled the show over two nights to MusicalFare audiences. According to Denman, the stay offered an important proving ground.
"It worked. It really worked. Sold out both shows. We thought, 'This really plays.' It plays outside of New York. It plays outside of L.A, which was one of the other plays where we tried out some stuff. So we knew it wasn't just a show for New Yorkers. It was a show for everyone."
Starting tonight, Happy Merry Hanu-Mas returns for five shows in four days. For Randall Kramer, MusicalFare is more than happy to have the Holiday Guys back on their stage
"It's very important to MusicalFare that we not only have a presence in the community, but we have a presence regionally, even nationally. So when you have an opportunity to bring in two Broadway performers, both of whom have been nominated for all sorts of awards - Mark Kudisch has been nominated for three Tony's over the years- that's something we need to do," Kramer said.
"It's something I feel very strongly about because what it's doing is bringing New York City here for a weekend."
The show presents another intriguing local connection. A group of celebrities will join the Holiday Guys on stage for reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Channel Two's Maryalice Demler and actors Loraine O'Donnell, Tom Owen and Saul Elkin will each take to the stage for a reading.
"It's a favorite moment in the show. It's this iconic story told in their style, the Holiday Guys style," Kramer said .
The Holidays Guys in Happy Merry Hanu-Mas starts its five-show run at MusicalFare tonight.