Two-time Tony Winner, Christine Ebersole, shines at 54 Below with Billy Stritch.
By: Patrick Christiano
December 15, 2023: Performing together for 20 years, Christine Ebersole and Billy Stritch are a charming pair from the old school of cabaret elegance. Making their 54 Below debut with a delightful Christmas show called, “I’ll Be Home for the Holidays, they were joined by Michael O’Brien on bass, and Ray Marchica on drums. The good friends held court to an adoring audience at the intimate supper club, where Stritch joined Ebersole on a few songs. However, the evening is a rare chance to experience the divine Christine Ebersole up close in a cozy environment, which only added to her warmth.
She is a consummate storyteller/singer with a lush soprano voice, who has graced both concert stages and cabarets in a career that spans 50-years. Amongst her accolades are two Tony Awards for her memorable Broadway performances, and she has appeared in twenty Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, plus made countless appearances on television and in film.
After her back-up trio opened the show with a cool instrumental rendition of Vince Guaraldi’s “Skating,” Christine sailed onto the stage looking young and radiant with curly mid-length blond hair and told us, “It’s past my bedtime.”
She then shared a witty story about her name, which I found intriguing because I believe our names reflect our karma and what we are meant to manifest in the World. Her name signifies she is a most devout follower of Christ with the soul of a wild boar. Reflecting on the woman and her career, this made sense to me. Think about it.
Keeping with the wintery Christmas theme she opened with “Winter Weather/I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” adding romance to the evening’s festivities. Staying with the holidays and love there was “My Favorite Things,” from The Sound of Music, Johnny Mandel’s “Christmas Love Song,” with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, followed by a sensual “Sunday in New York,” before a sizzling rendition of “Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” from Oklahoma.
Billy gave her chance to catch her breath with a lovely “Snowfall” before Christine launched into a highlight of the evening, three songs from her 2001 Tony- winning performance as Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street: an enchanting “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” a delightful “Were in the Money,” and a luminous “I Only Have Eyes for You.”
She shared a funny tale about learning the truth about Santa at age seven before delivering a jazzy “Winter Wonderland.” Next was another highlight, a haunting mashup of “Another Winter in a Summer Town,” with “Drift Away,” from her Tony Award winning performance in Grey Gardens, a musical that she said, “Changed her life.”
There was a delicious cover of Joni Mitchell’s “The River,” followed by “The Ice Hotel,” and “Christmas in L.A.,” where ironically, she will be spending the holiday because of a recurring television role Chuck Lorre’s CBS hit sitcom, “Bob Hearts Abishola.”
She closed out the show with “There’s a Boat Leavin’ Soon for New York,” from Porky and Bess followed by the traditional encore, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” where she had the entire room singing along with her until she shut them up telling them, “This part is just me.”
She plays three more shows at 54 Below Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 15-17 @7pm.
Photography & Videos Barry Gordin