‘The Holiday Guys’ at Signature Theatre by Julia L. Exline

Signature Theatre presents The Holiday Guys, a fun-filled holiday show created and performed by Broadway veterans Jeffry Denman and Marc Kudisch, with music direction by Timothy Splain. This duo’s friendly interaction with the audience makes it feel like you are hanging out with a couple of hilarious buddies as they break out the instruments and tap shoes!

Marc Kudisch and Jeffry Denman in ‘The Holiday Guys.’ Photo by Ben Strothmann.

The set is a busy one, with a grand piano, a towering Christmas tree encircled with gifts, and an incredibly realistic fire crackling under a wide mantle. On either side of the fireplace sits a chair — one, an overstuffed lounger and the other an elegant, leather straight back. Twinkle lights hang against the back wall, and a menorah is seen sitting next to a nutcracker. Soft blue lighting supplied by Lighting Designer Erin Jones compliments the scene, and is completed with festive sound mixing by Matt Rowe. And there are three great musicians to back them up and to join in on the fun: Timothy Splain on the piano, Adam Neely on bass, and David Murray on drums.

Jeffry Denman takes the stage wearing a handsome suit, while, at the same time, what was taken as a large bundle of blankets on the lounger stirs, and Marc Kudisch appears from beneath a bulky snuggie and patterned pajama bottoms. Clearly, these are two very different personalities, made even clearer as Marc takes a swig from a beer stein and Jeffry, a sip from a scotch neat. They argue about Marc’s laidback attire and nature versus Jeffry’s over-professional stature with an excellent chemistry, effortlessly bouncing off of each other’s quips. Jeffry agrees to be more flexible, and they open their show with a beautiful rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

What follows is a delightful mixture of song, dance, and general moments of fun, including when they host a “re-gift session,” choosing audience members at random to give their reject gifts to. Marc, who is Jewish, discusses with Jeffry (who is not) the fact that Jewish people are, in fact, “better at Christmas” than Christians, crediting the fact to pure jealousy and leading into Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s funny “Lonely Jew on Christmas.” [Marc and Michael Levine contributed ‘additional materials’].

Jeffry showed his hoofer skills ad he glides and taps across the stage while attempting to teach some moves to Marc in “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” During my favorite part of the show, they had a guest (tonight it was composer and Signature favorite Matt Connor) recite “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” while they supplied the sound effects,with Marc using organic objects like cups and blocks of wood, and Jeffry…his iPhone. The results were both incredibly funny and entertaining! These are only mere snapshots of one highly entertaining evening, which includes a riotous rendition of “Jingle Bells” performed with kazoos, and a Rastafarian version of “Holly Jolly Christmas.”

Marc Kudisch and Jeffry Denman on the guitar and ukelele. Photo by Ben Strothmann.

As hysterical as the show is, it also has softer moments of reflection and grace, making it a well-rounded evening of entertainment. The men’s genuine friendship radiates throughout the audience, pulling everyone together, and bringing so much joy and ultimately making you feel as if you had just left an intimate party at their home.

The Holiday Guys is a jolly holly good time! Buy yourself a HANU-MAS gift and catch these two talented guys and their talented musicians before they move on with their show to The Big Apple!

Running time is approximately 90 minutes, without an intermission.

The Holiday Guys plays through December 16, 2012 th at Signature Theatre – 4200 Campbell Ave., in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call (703) 820-9771, or order them online.

After its run at Signature Theatre, The Holiday Guys moves to The York Theatre Company – 619 Lexington Avenue, in New York City from December 18 – 31, 2012.

The Holiday Guys website.
Marc Kudisch’s website.
Jeffry Denman’s website.


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