It’s almost time to baste the champers, pop the stockings and hang the turkey – or whatever. And if you feel like accompanying it all with some festive jazz hands and a Christmas play list, Clive Paget has taken a winter wander through his musical theatre collection to summon up the top ten shows to feature seasonal songs.

Rent

Like its antecedent opera La Bohème, the first part of Jonathan Larson’s Rent takes place on Christmas Eve – in this case trading the romantic street of Paris for the mean streets of New York.

The cast of Rent produced by Highway Run Productions and the Hayes Theatre Co. Photograph © Kurt Sneddon

She Loves Me

Bock and Harnick’s winsome musical rom-com set in a department store features a clever Christmas shopping scene with a number that must be everyone’s private Christmas nightmare.

Meet Me In St Louis

Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s musical version of the MGM Judy Garland hit movie features probably the greatest (and possibly the saddest) Christmas song of all.

Scrooge

Leslie Bricusse’s 1992 musical adaptation of Dickens’ classic novella A Christmas Carol is based on his film version starring Albert Finney. If you like a right old festive Cockney knees up, this one’s for you.

Promises, Promises

With secretaries harassed by leering bosses, Burt Bacharach’s adaptation of Neil Simon’s The Apartment seems singularly inappropriate right now. Time travel back to the sleazy sixties and the office Christmas party from hell.

Mame

OK, so this song actually happens a week after Thanksgiving, but try telling that to Auntie Mame. She may have just lost her savings in the Wall Street Crash, but it’s the seasonal thought that counts.

Songs for a New World – Surabaya Santa

Jason Robert Brown burst onto the scene with this compilation of songs, one of which is not just Christmassy, but is also one of the best Kurt Weill pastiches you’ll ever hear.

White Christmas the Musical

Hard to believe it took until 2000 before the 1954 Irving Berlin movie hit the stage. Not everyone liked it, mind. The New York Times called the show “as fresh and appealing as a roll of Necco wafers found in a mothballed Christmas stocking”.

A Christmas Carol

Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens get closer to the spirit of Dickens than most musical adaptations – and there have been a few! As Tiny Tim said: “A Merry Christmas to us all, God bless us every one!”

Elf – the Musical

Alright, so this is pretty lame fare, but we are down at No 10. Martin and Meehan’s musical is based on the hit film about a boy who accidentally winds up at the North Pole after crawling into Santa’s sack. Don’t say you weren’t warned…


Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine