If there’s a menorah in your window and a Christmas tree in your living room, has White Plains Performing Arts Center got a musical for you!
Actually, “That Time of the Year” — the Christmas-Hanukkah-New Year’s musical now getting its Westchester premiere at the White Plains PAC — works just as well for the either-or crowd, too.
With lyrics by Laurence Holzman of Dobbs Ferry and Felicia Needleman of Larchmont and music by seven different composers, “That Time of the Year” is a revue of 30 songs — yes, 30 — touching on nearly every conceivable aspect of the holidays that take over in December and don’t let up till Jan. 1.
The composers are Sanford Marc Cohen, Nicholas Levin, Donald Oliver, Kyle Rosen, Brad Ross, Mark Wherry and Wendy Wilf.
There are silly songs: one sung by a dreidel (“Time for a Spin”); one about a lonely Mrs. Claus (“Stay Home Tonight”); one with two bearded Jewish men (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Hanukkah”); and one about fruitcakes (“Holiday Lament”).
There are secular songs: about shopping (“Husband’s Blues); about being apart on Christmas (“Underneath the Mistletoe”); about decorations (“Little Colored Lights”); about having to go home for the holidays (“People with Obligations”); about warm-weather holidays (“Calypso Christmas”); about telling your family you’re gay at yuletide (“Country Christmas”); about unrequited love (“Veronica”); about over-indulging (“It’s Everywhere”); and about not having New Year’s plans (“What Are We Gonna Do…?”)
There are sentimental story songs: about traditions (“Mama’s Latkes”); about having the house full again (“They All Come Home”); and even a funny number about Christmas Eve Chinese food (“Wong Ho’s China Garden”).
There are serious songs:?one about the simplicity and power of Hanukkah (“Candles in the Window”); one sung to the newborn Jesus (“Welcome”).
Through it all is woven the show’s title song, which is reprised five times to introduce a new section that touches on a different aspect of the holidays.
The conclusion — in an anthem-sounding song that builds to a big finish — is that “Miracles Can Happen,” whether it’s one day of oil that lasts for eight or a child who comes to earth to save mankind.
“That Time of the Year” has played the York Theater in New York, but here it marks the new home for Holzman and Needleman: They signed last spring to re-imagine the White Plains PAC as a venue for new works. Holzman is executive director; Needleman literary manager.
Their first two mainstage productions have been shows of their own: first, the searing, serious “Wallenberg,” about the World War II hero of Budapest; now, the feather-light “That Time of the Year,” which is directed by Annette Jolles, who helped develop the show over the course of the past decade and is WPPAC’s artistic director.
The cast of five hard-working singers — Zachary Clause, Leslie Henstock, Hanley Smith, Emily Jenda and Ryan Malyar — hit their marks and their notes without missing a beat and give every song everything they’ve got, from ballads to torch songs to patter songs to jingly, bouncy songs.
Holzman and Needleman write funny, clever lyrics and the cast certainly has strong comedic chops — particularly the rubber-faced Hanley Smith and Zachary Clause.
All get a serious song to show their range, accompanied by a great little combo: Darren R. Cohen on piano, Jerry DeVore on bass and Chris Pagano on percussion.
If there’s one song that typifies “That Time of the Year,” it’s “Angelo Rosenbaum,” sung by Malyar, about a Catholic Jew who hangs a dreidel on his Christmas tree and is looking for the perfect girl.
And wouldn’t you know? He finds her.
It’s all nice, to be sure — holiday songs you haven’t heard sung by talented, smiling singers — but in an age of intermissionless 90-minute Broadway musicals that tell stories, “That Time of the Year” feels like it’s guilty of the season’s excesses.
It runs an hour and 45 minutes and could easily run an intermissionless 80 minutes without suffering from the cut.
After all, we’ve all got shopping to do.
Reminds me of a song…
“That Time of the Year” White Plains Performing Arts Center, 11 City Place, White Plains. Through Dec. 19. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. $49. 877-548-3237 or 914-328-1600. Go to the White Plains PAC Website.
Photo by Angela Gaul/WPPAC: The cast of “That Time of the Year,” from left: Zachary Clause, Emily Jenda, Ryan Malyar, Leslie Henstock and Hanley Smith.