By MARILYN LESTER**** Ten years ago, Christine Pedi started what would become a tradition in New York City holiday shows. Originally she named it Holly Jolly Christmas Folly, until she received a cease-and-desist order from the rights holder of the song “Holly Jolly Christmas.” This lump of coal in her holiday stocking has been immortalized in Pedi’s opening number, a mash-up of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Happy Holidays” and what is now the “Holly Jolly Lawsuit.” The original name of the original show was promptly changed to There’s No Bizness Like Snow Bizness, which morphed and settled simply into Snow Bizness. A rose by any other name… Snow Bizness is holly jolly fun. Pedi never fails to put together a bounding musical sleigh ride of silliness and seriousness with everything in between.
On the silly side, there was Pedi in top form with her celebrity voices. She’s not just a vocal imitator, but an expert in catching mannerism and mode as well as creating clever dialog. Her celeb carols with Cher, Bette Davis and Judy Garland were riotous. A reprise was over-the-top funnier with Sofia Vergara singing “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” Billie Holiday crooning “The Dreidel Song,” Judge Judy presiding over “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and Barbra Streisand regaling with the tale of “Frosty the Snowman.” Of course, there was “The Twelve Divas of Christmas,” with the passed basket full of names. To this random selection by audience members, Pedi whips into gear singing each day’s gift in the voice of the chosen diva.
Pedi is not only a talented impersonator, but an all-around entertainer. This year’s show also had political kick. Noting that, by contrast to 2016 at this time, the world has changed an awfully lot, she made her points effectively, without being heavy-handed. “Laughing Matters” proved topical and when she got her teeth into “The Grinch” it was clear about whom she was singing, making the laughs all the more meaningful. A trio of songs — “Some Children See Him,” “The Child in Me Again” and “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” made its point about children as common ground and our collective future. Nostalgia was invoked for Pedi’s childhood memories of Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians’ rendition of “The Night Before Christmas.” A Christmas treasure arrived in the form of jazz guitarist Gene Bertoncini who played with his famously fluid and lyric touch to “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.”
Pedi’s voice is robust and when she sings “straight” the emphasis is on lyric interpretation. Her mimetic “Sleigh Ride” was a bounding thrill ride through imaginary town and field. “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” and “Christmas Lullaby” were reminders of the true meaning of the season, as were renditions of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “A Place Called Home.” Finishing up with an audience sing-along of “White Christmas” was the perfect touch for seasonal good cheer. The evening’s orchestra was music director Matthew Martin Ward, who performed yeoman’s duties on keyboard sound effects as well as on festive piano-playing.
Snow Bizness plays one more performance at Feinstein’s/54 Below, 254 West 54 Street in NYC on December 12, 2017 at 9:30 PM. Reservations at www.54below.com or at 646-476-3551.