By: Paulanne Simmons
December 4, 2018: Meg Flather and Lisa Viggiano first conceived of their show, #realjoy (at Don’t Tell Mama Dec. 2 and 30) as a way of getting rid of those pre-Christmas blues. But, inspired by Tracey Thorn’s “Joy,” their show really becomes a search for happiness and meaning in the midst of loss. With music director Tracy Stark at the piano, Flather and Viggiano perform a song list that goes well beyond traditional Christmas carols.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Favorite Things” reminds us that it’s the “doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles” that make us happy. And while Flather offers a host of possibilities for self-improvement with “Hard Candy Christmas”: ”Maybe I’ll lose some weight/Maybe I’ll clear my junk/Maybe I’ll just get drunk on apple wine,” Viggiano adds a lighter note with “Christmas Time Is Here,” which means “Happiness and cheer/Fun for all that children call/Their favorite time of the year.”
Flather remembers her mother, who died in March, with her “Like a Sunday.” And Stark, who is also an accomplished singer and composer, sang her own “Perfect Christmas.” But Christmas Is not all reflection. It’s also lots of fun, which Flather (who played Mame as a 17-year-old) demonstrates with a Jerry Herman medley.
In off-the-shoulder black Flather and Viggiano are in perfect visual harmony. Even better, these two friends are the milk and honey of song, with voices that blend, complement and enhance. Lennie Watts’s skilled direction makes the magic flow.
And for all you traditionalists, Flather and Viggiano end with Christmas favorites, “Calling All Angels” and “Holy Night.”
Don’t Tell Mama is at 343 West 46 Street, www.donttellmamnyc.com.