Featured Five, Vol. 15 – ‘Tis The Season for Contemporary Musical Theatre

This blog was origin ally published Deceber 16, 2014

Jack Frost, egg nog, shopping, or Scrooge? What says “holiday” to you? How about some holiday themed contemporary musical theatre? For this month’s Featured Five, we give you five new holiday songs. Hopefully one will speak to your spirit this season.

David and I want to wish all our readers a wonderful holiday and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015!

Christmas Without You

Kellen & Blair
Kellen & Blair

From: Joyce To The World

Music by: Joe Kinosian 
Lyrics by: Kellen Blair
Perfect for: Legit Mezzo

This was one of the first songs we wrote for a show called “Joyce to the World”, a musical comedy about the romantic entanglements of a group of midwestern librarians. Early in the show it’s revealed that Joyce’s husband, Marcus, left her the previous December. As the holidays roll around again she finds herself remembering him and feeling a little blue. The show has been shelved for the time being, but we love this song because shortly after writing it we realized that it totally stands on its own. We didn’t have any one singer in mind initially, but the amazing Jill Abramovitz has sung it for us several times at various concerts and events and we absolutely love her rendition. The goal with this one is to make it funny and heartbreaking at the same time… and it works best with a slight midwestern accent! Enjoy, and happy holidays!!

For more information click here.

Santa Ain’t Black

Rachel PetersMusic & Lyrics by: Rachel Peters
Perfect for: Legit Tenor

This is a standalone song I wrote upon request for the NYPL Performing Arts Library’s Broadway’s Future 2011 holiday concert. I’m not a very holiday-cheery person, so I was incapable of supplying something straightforward and earnest. As I thought about who might be available to sing whatever I came up with, I noted that many of my favorite singers happen to be black men. It occurred to me that I’d never seen a black shopping mall Santa Claus, and when/where I grew up Santa’s race was never even questioned. Also, that’s a job I’d never want, and I imagined how cathartic and potentially hilarious it would be for someone in that position to finally be able to talk back to all the bratty kids and clueless adults. It became the perfect formula for the brilliant John-Andrew Morrison to let loose.

I’ve toiled over musicals and operas for years, but this is the most frequently performed thing I’ve ever written!

For more information, click here.

Kiss Me, Santa

Andrew Abrams
Andrew Abrams
Joan Ross Sorkin
Joan Ross Sorkin

Lyrics by: Andrew Abrams
Music by: Joan Ross Sorkin
Perfect for: Belt Mezzo

Sometimes a song idea just comes. This is the way it was with “Kiss Me, Santa.” I was thinking of idea for a stand-alone, cabaret-style holiday song and I thought about people who don’t always think that Christmas is all jingle bells, snowflakes and happy times. I guess Elvis’ oldie “Blue Christmas” was in the back of my mind. So I thought: What about the person struggling to get their life back together? This led me to the idea of a woman whose marriage is broken and all she wants for Christmas is for her husband to come back home to her and their children. Naturally, this couldn’t be a jolly up tempo number, but not a downer either, so I envisioned it as a bluesy torch song—a cry for help, but one with hopefulness at its core.

At the time Andy Abrams and I were talking about working together, and I knew he was a great jazz pianist, so we decided to take a stab at it. And that’s how “Kiss Me, Santa” was born. It has been sung by Kenita Miller, Gabrielle Lee, and Meghan McGeary, among others, and we hope it will be sung by many more. It’s a terrific “alternative” song at Christmas time when someone is looking to jazz up their Christmas repertory and surprise the audience with a heartfelt story song that can be belted out and bring the audience to their feet.

For more information click here.

Don’t Say Merry Christmas

Brian Katona
Brian Katona

Music by: Brian Katona
Lyrics by: Jerrod Bogard
Perfect for: Any voice type

“Don’t Say Merry Christmas” was originally written for the BMI Lehman-Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in New York City. Inspired by the film “It’s A Wonderful Life,” we set off to write a classic Christmas song that conjures up the joyful spirit and nostalgia of the season. The song premiered at the annual Holiday Concert at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium December 2013, performed by Broadway actress Lianne Marie Dobbs.  Don’t Say Merry Christmas is an easily accessible solo piece, perfect for any voice part.  A fun selection for any Holiday concert or recording!

For more information click here.


John Bucchino headshot
John Bucchino

From: It’s Only Life

Music & Lyrics by: John Bucchino
Perfect for: Belt Tenor

I was cleaning house one Saturday, vacuuming, when I found myself at the piano singing the chorus and weeping. The most – “lightning bolt of inspiration” songwriting moment I’ve ever had. But all I had was the chorus, which I played over and over for weeks, not knowing how to write the rest. One day I just forced myself to sit at the piano until I finished the song. I was having dinner with Art Garfunkel that night and, instead of meeting at the restaurant, I asked him to come over first to hear my new song. When I finished playing it, he said: “Don’t give that to anyone else… IT’S MINE!” He began closing his shows with it, and recorded it on his own CD, “Across America.” It’s subsequently been recorded by David Campbell on our new CD “David Campbell sings John Bucchino” (available on iTunes) by Michael Feinstein on my “Grateful, The Songs of John Bucchino” CD, by Brian Lane Green on his self-titled CD, by Brian Stokes Mitchell with the Mormon Tabernacle choir, By Billy Porter on my “It’s Only Life” CD, and by various other artists. The lyric was also illustrated and turned into a Harper Collins children’s book by Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. My dream is to have it be the national Thanksgiving song, which is slowly happening. It’s being performed in more and more churches and at events all over the country during the Thanksgiving holiday season. Both sheet music and piano accompaniment tracks for the song in various keys are available in the store at www.johnbucchino.com.

For more information click here.


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Visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 180 contemporary musical theatre writers and 550+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.


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