When the holiday season rolls around, something else rolls around with it. Several limited engagements, targeted to holiday travelers visiting New York, or locals who want some extra Christmas spirit. This year sees three productions come to Broadway for the holidays: Celebrity Autobiography, The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays, and Ruben and Clay's Christmas Show.
The illusionists of The Illusionists are no stranger to Broadway. Audiences were previous treated to magic in Witness the Impossible (2014-15), Live on Broadway (2015-16), and Turn of the Century (2016-17). Now, they're bringing Magic of the Holidays to the Marquis Theater. Featuring The Deductionist Colin Cloud, The Sorceress Chloe Crawford, The Manipulator Shin Lim, The Grand Illusionist Darcy Oake, and The Futurist Adam Trent; Magic of the Holidays is an evening that is fun for the whole family, and leave you wondering how they were able to pull off their stunts. It's the perfect example of holiday theater: magical, with touching stories from each member of the cast about how they became magicians. It runs through December 30 with magic that you will have to see the believe.
While magic is being made on the Marquis' stage eight times a week, for three Mondays in November and December, a rotating cast of celebrities brought Celebrity Autobiography to Broadway. While it is already a Drama Desk Award wining off-Broadway staple, it features comedic performers performing from the actual memoirs of a wide range of a celebrities, covering everything from diets to fitness to the most famous love story in history. While they only performed on November 26, December 10, and December 17, it brought a great deal of laughter to midtown. The December 10 performance which I attended, featured Alec Baldwin, Mario Cantone, Tony Danza, Rachel Dratch, Susan Lucci, Eugene Pack, Dayle Reyfel, and Cecily Strong. And it featured readings from the autobiographies of everyone from Justin Bieber to Ethel Merman and more. Incredibly funny, featuring some crude jokes, and with the perfect amount of humor to fill the Marquis, they might want to continue a return engagement in the future.
And just a block over from the Marquis, Ruben and Clay's Christmas Show runs at the Imperial Theatre through December 30. It reunites the American Idol finalists for some Christmas songs and sketches, while promising to deliver a Christmas spectacular full of music, theatrics, and laughter. Certainly full of music, Ruben and Clay is at it's best when the pair bust out their vocal chops, whether it's for a Christmas carol sing-off, or joining the ensemble (Farah Alvin, Ken Arpino, Julian Diaz-Granados, La'nette Wallace, and Khalia Wilcoxon) in a 15 song medley, the music is what makes the show. Though the corny back-and-forth banter and cheesy comedy do not help the show in its endeavor to remind the audience of retro TV Christmas specials, the music does its best to make up for it. And when it sings, it (quite literally) soars, though you'll have to see the show understand why.