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‘Courtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the Holidays’
at the Alliance Theatre

2016 December 12

If you’re looking for a party where you can imbibe with friends inside an exquisitely designed elegant home and sing along with a Broadway performer, look no further than “Courtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the Holidays” on the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre.

Collins sings some of the great standards — “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Santa Baby,” “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” encompassing numerous different styles, including opera, blues, cabaret and folk. Her rendition of “We Need a Little Christmas” was so wonderful it brought tears to my eyes. But the song I enjoyed her singing most was her alone sitting and playing the piano singing “River” by Joni Mitchell, whom she sounded much like.

Acting most of the songs out, Collins commands the stage like the wonderful actress she is. One moment, she’s a sexy seductress, and the next moment, she’s on her chaise lounge talking to her therapist remembering a memory long ago. A little girl comes to life as she recounts the traumatic memory of Mommy kissing Santa Claus.

In the second act, the audience gets to sing Hanukkah and Christmas holiday songs along with Collins and her three-piece band. She also hands out treats to the entire audience, homemade cookies and Hanukkah gelt, chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.

During each show, she brings out a surprise guest. Last Wednesday she had Chris Kayser, who came out dressed as a Rastafarian with long dreadlocks wrapped up in chains to promote an upcoming show. The best part of the entire show was the guest appearance by Kristian Bush, a Grammy Award winner who wrote the music for the upcoming premiere of  Janece Shaffer’s new play, “Troubadour,” which opens at the Alliance in January. I have never been a fan of country music, but I am now a fan of Kristian Bush, whose new song “Thinking About Drinking for Christmas,” is so funny, and as a solo performance artist, he was outstanding.

You never know who’s coming to Collins’s holiday party, but if she can possibly find other guests that will perform as well as Bush, that alone could make this party worthwhile.

The set, by Kat Conley, is exquisite, replete with a marble fireplace, numerous chandeliers and a long bar where guests can order drinks and the band can imbibe. If only Collins’s dress matched classy the decor. In the first act, she wore a long, green unflattering dress that looked as it had been made of shoddy polyester and picked up at a cheap store. The knee-length black cutout dress she wore in the second act was not half bad but certainly not great.

“Courtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the Holidays” runs on the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre through Dec. 24.

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