Soft Candy Christmas: Larry Grossman and Carol Hall Turn Truman Capote's Yuletide "Memory" Into a Musical

By Harry Haun
25 Oct 2011

Penny Fuller in the TheatreWorks production
photo by Tracy Martin

Basically, the "plot" chronicles the various adventures of Sook and Buddy in preparing their annual holiday activities — corralling and cooking the exotic ingredients of a seasonal dessert ("Alabama Fruitcake") which they make 30 strong to send off to "friends" ranging from FDR to Borneo missionaries to a friendly mailman.

There's also a number for chopping down and trimming their Christmas tree: "Paper and Cotton," which will probably be remembered by its refrain, "They Don't Make Christmas Like That Anymore." "It's the one Christmas song in the show," Grossman pointed out. "I won't say it wrote itself, but we knew what it should be and what it could be. It was just a question of choosing the images for it. I love the part, which talks about Christmas today — 'catalogs all stacked up, and traffic all backed up.' It's good writing on Carol's part. It comes at the end of Act One. People like it. It has commercial possibilities. If there's a song that'd step out and be recorded, that's it."

Grossman said, "Of all the shows I've done, this was the easiest to write. It was written with love and, I think, understanding and appreciation for the delicacy of the writing — and the universality of it because over the years it has become a Christmastime staple."

Hall could even have thrown in her Whorehouse hit, "Hard Candy Christmas," for added flavor. "I did begin to think I should do an album of Christmas songs," she confessed. "I wrote for 'Sesame Street' for ten years, and I did a song for a Christmas special."

An album would be great: Call it "A Christmas Carol Hall."

Harry Haun is a longtime staff writer for Playbill magazine. He writes's Playbill On Opening Night column.