Jerry Herman, award-winning composer of Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles and many other beloved musicals wrote his first new score in 13 years for a TV musical, "Mrs. Santa Claus," broadcast Dec. 8. Write us your review.
What did you think of the songs, story, directing, etc.? How was star Angela Lansbury? How does the show stack up to Herman's classics? Will it become a holiday season staple?
Please e-mail your reviews to Playbill On-Line managing editor Robert Viagas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Answers will be posted as they come in.
Here are the results so far: From Dan Derby (Daninwmass@aol.com):
On Sunday night on your local CBS station you got a taste of good old fashioned musical comedy with the dish "Mrs Santa Claus". An extra helping of memorable tunes, a wonderful dance number, and the charm of Angela Landsbury.
It was so refreshing to see a new score, since "La Cage Aux Folles", by my favorite composer/lyricist, Jerry Herman. What a knack he has for those hummable tunes such as "Hello, Dolly!", "The Best of Times", "Mame", and one of my favorites, "Put On Your Sunday Clothes". "Whistle" and "Avenue A" are sure to follow that list in the coming years. Every time a commercial break came on, I found myself singing the song that previously ended. That is when you know, you're watching something good.
Rob Marshall's choreography was sensible, even rememorable during "Avenue A". "Whistle" was the highlight of the evening, with a good old fashioned musical comedy number that sent you away "whistling" a tune. Angel Lansbury was marvelous as the title role and her voice still sounds the same from when she was at The Wintergarden singing about a boy, a bugle, and long pants.
The only dissapointment I had was the time period it was allowed to have. Two hours was not enough time to fit in all the talents that this project has. It seemed a bit too rushed for us theatre lovers and hurried. Terrence Man played a devilish Mr. Tavish (a large step from "Beast"), David Norona played a convincing "Marcello", and Charles Durning played a loveable "Santa".
In the end, we have a holiday classic on our hands, that will hopefully make its way to the Great White Way. With some added songs, more material, this could be a Broadway Hit for the Holidays. Maybe, if we move some feline fellows, Ms. Lansbury can make her Triumphant return at the Wintergarden. But this time around with a sleigh instead of a bugle.
From Gary Chartrand (email@example.com):
My first reaction to MRS. SANTA CLAUS is that I was a bit disappointed, particularly in the story. But overall I'm grateful - grateful to have an original musical on television. And one by Jerry Herman! It was great to see Angela Lansbury and Terrence Mann. I especially enjoyed the songs "Mrs. Santa Claus", "Avenue A", and "Whistle". I thank CBS for showing it. When was the last original musical on TV? (Perhaps Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella".) I hope that we don't have to wait so long for the next one.
I really wanted to like it. However, when I heard the strains of "We Need a Little Christmas" over a scene with Santa and the elves, I realized how inferior this score was to past Jerry Herman projects. It seemed like we heard the same song over and over. I thought Terrance Mann did an outstanding job as the villain of the piece, even though the ending, where his entire personality was changed by giving him a teddy bear, was totally stupid. Angela Lansbury did the best she could with what she had to work with.
From B.P. ( BPSprtFan@aol.com):
I thought "Mrs. Santa Claus" was a refreshing treat for the holiday season, although it did have a predictable plot, especially the link between Mr. Tavish and his despise for quality toys. Angela Lansbury was great, although I would have liked to see more songs for members of the supporting cast, such as Terrence Mann. The singing portion of his role was so brief. I'm sure they could have included more songs for the character of Mr. Tavish as well as the other characters and balanced it a little. Overall, the music was okay, but it didn't knock my socks off. I don't think I'd buy the audio recording, but I already have watched it over again.