×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Deck the Hall: Holiday Sing-Along

Like so many Angelenos transplanted from more wintry climes, Judith Owen grew homesick for an old-fashioned Christmas. So the British singer and her husband, humorist, actor and musician Harry Shearer, started throwing holiday parties at their home, inviting folks over and leading them in inebriated sing-alongs of holiday songs.

With:
Singers: AngelesChorale Chamber Singers (Donald Neuen, artistic director; John Sutton, conductor), Julia Fordham, Richard Thompson, Keb' Mo', Debra Dobkin, Van Dyke Parks, John Michael Higgins and the O.K. Chorale (Eric Bradley, Amy Engelhardt, Johnny Hawkins, Jane Lynch, Corey Moore, Catherine O'Hara, Kathleen Perkins). Accompanied by Bryan Pezzone, Sean Hurley, Philip Smith.

Like so many Angelenos transplanted from more wintry climes, Judith Owen grew homesick for an old-fashioned Christmas. So the British singer and her husband, humorist, actor and musician Harry Shearer, started throwing holiday parties at their home, inviting folks over and leading them in inebriated sing-alongs of holiday songs. The guest list soon became too big for their home to accommodate (and their house is currently being renovated), so they moved the festivities to Disney Hall for what should become an annual event.

Owen and Shearer are wonderful hosts who tried to replicate their house party as closely as possible. Disney Hall was the perfect choice of venue for the show; its warm acoustics and “vineyard” seating plan, with the audience surrounding the stage, provides the intimacy this type of perf demands. The stage is set with plush red couches and easy chairs (their actual furniture, Owens informs the crowd, pulled out of storage), poinsettias, a piano (played with a light touch by Bryan Pezzone) and a Christmas tree. They also invited some friends to populate the stage; they sat around, drinks in hand, making small talk, and occasionally joined in the performances. Even Victor, the family dog, joined the party.

Owen started the night off, welcoming the aud with a jazzy “Christmas Song.” She was followed by what she calls “the ringers”: friends who are also professional musicians.

They included Julia Fordham, whose dusky voice brings just the right touch of melancholy to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”; Richard Thompson, who, as you might expect, unearths an obscure “folk carol,” “Herod and the Cock”; “A Mighty Wind” and “Best in Show” veteran John Michael Higgins, who leads the eight-voice O.K. Chorale (including fellow Christopher Guest ensemble players Jane Lynch, Catherine O’Hara and Shearer) in an a capella medley of modern carols.

Keb’ Mo’ — who invited Owen and Shearer to his holiday show at Disney Hall last year –returned the favor, performing an original Christmas song. Shearer took center stage for a wonderfully droll cover of Jill Sobule’s “Jesus Was a Dreidel Spinner” (the ecumenical part of the evening, he explained) and swung his way through “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Second half of the show was dedicated to audience participation, climaxing with a wonderfully raucous “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Owen divided the house, with each section assigned one “day” to sing; the crowd got into the spirit, with each section trying to outdo the others, and everyone chiming in for “five golden rings.” Owens and Shearer conducted the song with broad smiles on their faces — it was obvious they were enjoying themselves as much as the aud.

Evening ended with the 40-strong Angeles Chorale Chamber Singers and organist Philip Smith taking the stage and leading the house in “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.” It was a fitting finale to a holiday celebration that was as funny, heartfelt and nostalgic as one could want; all that was missing were snowdrifts on the ground as you left the theater.

Deck the Hall: Holiday Sing-Along

Walt Disney Concert Hall; 2,265 seats; $50 top

Production: Presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. Reviewed Dec. 14, 2005.

Cast: Singers: AngelesChorale Chamber Singers (Donald Neuen, artistic director; John Sutton, conductor), Julia Fordham, Richard Thompson, Keb' Mo', Debra Dobkin, Van Dyke Parks, John Michael Higgins and the O.K. Chorale (Eric Bradley, Amy Engelhardt, Johnny Hawkins, Jane Lynch, Corey Moore, Catherine O'Hara, Kathleen Perkins). Accompanied by Bryan Pezzone, Sean Hurley, Philip Smith.Hosts: Judith Owen and Harry Shearer.

More Scene

  • The CalArts REDCAT Gala 2019 Honoring

    Pixar's Pete Docter Honored at CalArts REDCAT Gala

    Pixar’s Pete Docter reminisced about his days as a student at CalArts on Saturday night at the 2019 CalArts REDCAT Gala, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. For the wide-eyed boy from Minnesota, where life was more routine, attending CalArts “was a free-for-all. It was eye-opening in a lot of ways,” he recalled. “But [...]

  • Sasha Pieterse, Eli Brown, Sydney Park

    'Pretty Little Liars' Spinoff Unexpectedly Coincides With College Admissions Scandal

    It was a case of art imitating life at Saturday night’s Hollywood premiere of “The Perfectionists” — Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff about a scandal involving college students striving for excellence by any means necessary. The TV show’s debut was coincidently preceded by a real-life college scandal involving Hollywood celebrities who allegedly didn’t let a [...]

  • Keira Knightley'The Aftermath' film screening, Arrivals,

    Keira Knightley Talks 'Aftermath,' Alexander Skarsgård and Another Itchy Wardrobe

    The reigning queen of period pieces, Keira Knightley, knows a thing or two about historical clothing. “Lining. Lining is always important,” the Oscar-nominated actress playfully advised on Wednesday at the premiere of her post-WWII drama “Aftermath.” “If you get a lot of itchy stuff always put lining in it. I have learned that from having [...]

  • Priyanka Chopra

    Priyanka Chopra to Speak at the 2019 Women in the World Summit (EXCLUSIVE)

    Priyanka Chopra has just been added to the star-studded list of speakers at the 2019 Women in the World Summit. Chopra, who will be interviewed on stage by Women in the World founder Tina Brown, will discuss her career as an activist and entrepreneur. Recently, the “Baywatch” actress joined forces with Serena Williams in investing [...]

  • Jessica Chastain arrives at the 2019

    Jessica Chastain on Continuing to 'Balance the Scales' for Gender Parity in Hollywood

    Jessica Chastain‘s work for gender parity in Hollywood isn’t slowing down soon. “I have noticed, of course, now that it’s in fashion there are other people that are jumping on board, and honestly, I don’t care what their motives are,” Chastain tells Variety. “Because at the end of the day, the more we focus on [...]

  • 10 Latinxs to Watch

    Variety's 10 Latinxs to Watch Brunch Celebrates Diversity in the Community

    Saturday afternoon brought rising Latinx filmmakers and actors together at Variety’s 10 Latinxs to Watch brunch held in partnership with the 36th annual Miami Film Festival. The festive celebration, which took place at the JW Marquis Marriott’s Boulud Sud restaurant, featured a panel discussion moderated by Variety’s Malina Saval with the following five select individuals [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content