PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Annie Golden, James Monroe Iglehart, Joe Iconis and Family Pick Twisted Christmas Tunes

Playlist   PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Annie Golden, James Monroe Iglehart, Joe Iconis and Family Pick Twisted Christmas Tunes
 
The 7th Annual Joe Iconis Christmas Spectacular will be held Dec. 19-20 at 54 Below. In anticipation of the concerts, members of the cast and creative team pick twisted Christmas songs as part of this week's Playbill Playlist
James Monroe Iglehart
James Monroe Iglehart Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

John Simpkins will direct the performances, and Jennifer Ashley Tepper produces. Show times are Dec. 19 at 8 PM and 11 PM and Dec. 20 at 8 PM and 11 PM.

The show will feature special guests Annie Golden, James Monroe Iglehart (Dec. 19 at 11 PM only), Rebecca Naomi Jones (Dec. 19 at 11 PM only), Amy Spanger (Dec. 20 at 11 PM only), Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega (Dec. 19 at 8 PM only) and Chip Zien (Dec. 20 at 8 PM only).

Iconis "family members" at the shows include Nick Blaemire, Ally Bonino, Jimmy Brewer, Liz Lark Brown, Sarah Cetrulo, Harrison Chad, Donald Coggin, Bill Coyne, Katrina Rose Dideriksen, Seth Eliser, Badia Farha, Alexandra Ferrara, Danielle Gimbal, Josh Greenblatt, Molly Hager, Ian Kagey, Dennis Michael Keefe, Jessica Kent, Jane Kivnick, Emily Kratter, Rachel Lee, Lorinda Lisitza, Lauren Marcus, Julia Mattison, Eric William Morris, Jeremy Morse, Ray Munoz, James Penca, AnnMarie Powers, Rob Rokicki, Ashley Rodbro, Will Roland, Charlie Rosen, Mike Rosengarten, Lance Rubin, Katie Schorr (8 PM performances only), Jordan Stanley, Rachel Sussman, Taylor Trensch (11 PM performances only), Cait Weisensee, Jared Weiss and Jason SweetTooth Williams.

According to press notes, "Joe Iconis and his merry band of musical theater punks are back by popular demand in this seventh annual insane celebration of all things red and green. Featuring brand new holiday songs, old favorites, tiny elves, enormous reindeer, an inebriated Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and an ungodly number of candy canes, it promises to be the happiest holiday hoedown you've ever seen."

Jennifer Werner choreographs, and Michelle Eden Humphrey is the costume designer. Iconis penned the Drama Desk Award-nominated Bloodsong of Love, The Black Suits, ReWrite and The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks as well as the theatrical concert Things to Ruin (cast recording now available on Ghostlight Records). His songs were featured on Season 2 of NBC's "Smash," and he is currently working on commissions for La Jolla Playhouse and Two River Theater.

54 Below is located at 254 West 54th Street. Tickets are available at (866) 468-7619 or at 54Below.com.

Nick Blaemire: "Wonderful Christmas Time" (Paul McCartney). This song just seems to me to be the soundtrack to a murder secretly committed by the crazy bassist during this Christmas party in the video.

Katrina Rose Dideriksen: "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas." I wouldn't say it's twisted necessarily, but this has always been one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, and EVERYONE should know it. Favorite lyric: "There's lots of room for him in our two car garage. I'll feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage."

Molly Hager: "What's This?" from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" It's not truly Christmas (or Halloween, really) until I listen to "The Nightmare Before Christmas" soundtrack! I know every lyric and WILL sing along, so it's probably best for both of us if you just give me some alone time. You should also know that I do a pretty good vocal impression of some of the characters, most specifically the one that says, "Is it rotted and covered with gook?" Real NBC fans, you know what I'm talkin' about. Anyway, "What's This?" is the ultimate Christmas song from this soundtrack! Give her a listen:

James Monroe Iglehart: "Walking Around In Womens' Underwear" (Bob Rivers). When I was a teenager, I heard this on the radio, and it has haunted me ever since. Every Christmas I must find it and tease my wife with the lyrics. They get me every time…and it's also the way I change lyrics to songs constantly… And, NO, I do not wear women's underwear. Buuuuuut, it's Broadway, and since I chose this song, let the rumors begin! HA!

Joe Iconis: "Little Drummer Boy" (as covered by Grace Jones on "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special"). Alright, so the song itself isn't particularly twisted, but the interpretation certainly is. I remember watching this as a child and being simultaneously confused, terrified, intrigued and titillated. After making an entrance from a crate that was meant to be mailed to George Bush's White House instead of Pee-Wee Herman's Playhouse (?!), Grace Jones turns a minute-long cover of a benign Christmas tune into a weirdly sexual, haunted go-go performance art piece, complete with scary 80s synths and lots of side boob. Every time I hear this song now, I think of Grace in her anatomically correct metal dress, making druggy eyes at no one in particular as Pee-Wee tries to contain his erection by doing the "Tequila" dance.

Katie Schorr: "I Want to Come Home For Christmas" (Marvin Gaye). This song feels so sweetly cozy at the start, you do NOT expect the revelation about being a prisoner of war. It was released in '72, but it feels just as relevant now, especially if you leave room for interpretation on what kind of prisoner and what kind of war. When Marvin Gaye sings, "I want to see Santa Claus," with such longing, it wrecks me. Never have the sound of jingle bells felt so melancholy. This song twists my irritation with the whole holiday brouhaha into an appreciation for the simplest, most meaningful gifts this time of year: being safe and being home.

Annie Golden: "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" (performed by Dee Snider) or "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" (performed by Elmo & Patsy). It's Annie Golden chiming in with "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" — obviously twisted because it is about the demise of an old lady… Too much eggnog or something! Or "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," about adultery and sending kids mixed messages and lying to the children and so forth!!!

Oh, I gotta explain further: "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," obviously because it is supposed to be sad, but it is not and [instead is] catchy and clever and just says grandma had it coming with her eggnog intake… Somebody should have gone with her!

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" — confusing the children, lying to them to keep the myth of Santa getting more than cookies when he comes down the chimney… The pressure of mistletoe and what it can do to the elders trying to hold to tradition for the kids' sake… Naughty and nice and that concept, too… Protecting Daddy's feelings, but keeping secrets for an adulterous mother… Mixed signals to the little ones, I'm afraid… Ain't it?

Jennifer Ashley Tepper: "I Don't Remember Christmas" (Starting Here, Starting Now). I have always loved this furious, passionate, personal tirade about a break-up…in the form of a musical theatre song taking place on Christmas. The song is by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire and is from Starting Here, Starting Now. Here it is performed in 2013 by original cast member George Lee Andrews, who premiered the song Off-Broadway in 1976.

Max Friedman: "The Lights And Buzz" by Jack's Mannequin. This non-traditional holiday tune was the first song written and recorded by Andrew McMahon after his leukemia diagnosis and subsequent stem cell transplant. It was released as a single by Jack's Mannequin in 2005. It's a beautiful song about coming home for Christmas and feeling grateful. In my opinion, it's the most vividly human Christmas song in the pop-rock canon since Joni MItchell's "River."

Taylor Trensch: "Run Rudolph Run" performed by Hanson. My favorite twisted holiday song is Hanson's cover of "Run Rudolph Run." It's twisted because Isaac is singing lead vocals, and Isaac is totally gross.

James Penca: "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." As adorable as it is, I always thought "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" was weird for the following 2 reasons.

1. It's obviously not Santa she's kissing, but what if it's not the kid's dad either? "I saw Mommy Kissing Her Yoga Instructor" is the more appropriate title. Or: "I Saw Mommy Kissing Someone That May or May Not Have Been Santa Claus and/or My Father. Not Really Sure."

2. Let's assume the child is right and it is Santa, the child obviously doesn't understand the severity of her mother kissing Santa Claus. I mean, does this happen every Dec. 25? Or does he sneak through the chimney once a week? Should the child tell the father? What would he even do about it? Yell at his wife for sleeping with a fictional character. In fact, now the child will grow up and think this is okay! He/she will be pulling out her kids' teeth just to get a quickie from the tooth fairy. And there you have it, my twisted look at an adorable Christmas song about a child.

The song is made even weirder if sung by Michael Jackson and his brothers… Because apparently all five think their dad would have had "a laugh" if he had seen mommy kissing Santa Claus… I doubt that.

Rachel Sussman: "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" from "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Creepy, fun and stop-motion to boot! No Christmas can be complete without hearing this song at least once. It's a morbid classic.

Mike Rosengarten: "Die Hard" (Guyz Nite). Every year I celebrate "Traditional Jewish Christmas" by eating Chinese food and watching Christmas movies. The best Christmas movie of all time (in this Jew's humble opinion) is of course, "Die Hard." So, while it's not necessarily a Christmas song, my favorite "twisted" holiday song is naturally the "Die Hard" song by Guyz Nite because it reminds me of my beloved holiday traditions. Also, it freakin' rocks. Yipeekayay mother*cker.

Will Roland: "Chiron Beta Prime." My favorite 'twisted' Christmas tune is "Chiron Beta Prime" by Jonathan Coulton. It's about the Anderson family's first Christmas on a prison asteroid ruled by robots. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Josh Greenblatt: "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." This song is about a ten-year-old girl, Gayla Peevey, wanting a hippo as a present, knowing full well that there is a possibility it may eat her. She also would like to massage said hippo. Also, she has no idea how to make the word hippopotamus plural. What more could you want? Sometimes this song comes on shuffle during other parts of the year (yes, it is on my iPod), and I don't skip over it…

Jordan Stanley: "Hey Santa" by Carnie and Wendy Wilson. This song is just everything that is both awesome and terrifying about the 90s. It hearkens back to a time when you really could have it all: a hook as catchy as T-Swift's latest album, twirling miniature elves and as many painful gimmicks as your dad's stand-up routine. Why so twisted? Because it's so bad, it's AWESOME.

Ashley Rodbro: "Excitable Boy." This song has nothing to do with the holidays, but I'm going to say Warren Zevon's song "Excitable Boy." It is the weirdest, MOST TWISTED song I know, but my whole family loves it and sings it in harmony when we're all together, so I've definitely sung it at Christmastime on many occasions.

Jason SweetTooth Williams: "Player's Ball" (OutKast) and "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" (Elmo & Patsy). This really is a tie for me. The first would be "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." It's pretty classic and not that twisted, I guess. But I wasn't allowed to listen to it when I was a little, so it always seemed more forbidden than it really is. The other is "Player's Ball" by OutKast. It's a fantastic song and is really about an annual gathering of pimps, but I recently saw it on a Christmas song list, and it does feature a lot of sleigh bell in the beat, so I think that counts!

Rob Rokicki: Always been a big fan of John Denver's "Please Daddy, Don't Get Drunk This Christmas." Daddy stumbles in late at night and passes out in front of the Christmas tree. It mostly revolves around "watching Mama cry." Very catchy though… Daddy needs to get it together.

Also, Conway Twitty released a horrendous musical-album thing called "A Twistmas Story," featuring a plot revolving around a terrifying Christmas Clown named Happy. Everything also turns into "Twistmas" with the Twitty Bird singing in the most annoying voice ever. This song haunts my nightmares.

Amy Spanger: "Nutmeg." My favorite twisted holiday song is "Nutmeg" by John Legend and Stephen Colbert. It is perhaps the filthiest of all the holiday songs. My favorite section of the song is the bridge, where John Legend and Stephen Colbert artfully rhyme about kitchen spices. One especially brilliant rhyme is "No cocoa no cloves, no vanilla no mace, the only residue I want you wiping off your face is my nutmeg."

Ally Bonino: "Baby It's Cold Outside." When you think about it, it's the most charming song about date rape. Charming as all get out, but like, dude, what DID you put in that drink…

Liz Lark Brown: "Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney" (Ella Fitzgerald). This song reads like an episode of "Sex Sent Me To The ER." Just filthy. And what's worse — at the end of it — "DADDY" built her a new chimney for Santa to try again next year! Talk about twisted… unless this isn't for Playbill, and I've been tricked into an auditory Rorschach test of sorts…

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