Today we have another somewhat little-known Christmas song -- "somewhat" because it's had a fairly high profile, but then oddly disappeared.
In 1996, CBS made a lavish and pretty entertaining TV musical with high-pedigree, Mrs. Santa Claus, that starred Angela Lansbury and Charles Durning, with a score by Jerry Herman (who, of course, wrote the Broadway musical, Mame that Lansbury won a Tony Award for.) And aired it in Lansbury's old Murder: She Wrote timeslot. The show did well-enough to get repeated -- but since then, for whatever reason, it's largely fallen off the map. It not only stopped being shown annually, but even doesn't seem to be aired on smaller cable channels. And I believe the cast album CD is now out-of-print.
The film isn't great, but well-done, thoughtful and fun. And it has a pretty good score, including a wonderful showstopper production number, "Avenue A," along with several nice holiday songs. (This film aside, Herman does have a Christmas hit from Mame, the song "We Need a Little Christmas.")
Here's one of the more notable Christmas numbers from Mrs. Santa Claus, "The Best Christmas of All." The clip starts with the film's opening credits which is then edited on to the number that ends the show.
Oh, what the heck, 'tis the season, so here's a bonus song from the film. This is the slight, but charming title song from "Mrs. Santa Claus" sung by Lansbury -- with an appearance by an elf played by another Tony-winner, Michael Jeter. Like I said, the show has impressive pedigree. (Also in the cast as the antongist toy maker is Terrence Mann, who created the role of 'Inspector Javert' in the original Broadway production of Les Miserables.)
As above, this clip begins with part of the opening credits, and ends the some credits tacked on.
Oh, it's a festive season, so let's toss in one more. You're on the Nice list, after all. This isn't a Christmas song, but I mentioned it above and it's in a little-known Christmas movie, so it counts. Sort of.
This is my favorite song in the film, an elaborate production number called "Avenue A." Mrs. Santa Claus has had to abruptly land her sleigh in turn-of-the-centruy New York City. A young fellow named Marco (peformed by David Narona) sees this lost stranger wandering around and takes her on a tour, singing about the joys of the mixed-culture neighborhood. Seemingly a bit inspired by the song, "Consider Yourself" from Oliver!
One note -- at the 3:10 mark, you'll see a honky tonk piano player pounding the ivories in his apartment. In a brief cameo, that's the composer, Jerry Herman.
And for it all, I remain bewildered why this TV film has largely disappeared for pretty much any airplay for the past 20 years during the holiday season...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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