By Ron Fassler
Actress-singer-impressionist-radio show host and all-round super talent Christine Pedi brought her annual Christmas show “Snow Bizness” (the 12th!) to Feinstein’s/54 Below Friday night (with a repeat show on Sunday December 29th at 7:00 pm). If you’re looking for a laugh-filled and joyous romp this holiday season, then make sure you find your way to West 54th Street for some Christmas cheer.
For those with a subscription to Sirius Satellite Radio, Pedi is well-known as one of the hosts of its Broadway channel. She has a warmth to her voice and an insider’s knowledge of Broadway that is a definite plus when listening to her show. As for her ability to stand up in front of audiences and entertain in a cabaret setting, she has certainly put in the hours—and it shows. A long-time veteran of many years in various editions of Forbidden Broadway, her ability to transform herself in a nanosecond to more than two dozen theatre legends is… well, legendary. And as much fun as she has with those that other impressionists do well (Carol Channing and Ethel Merman come immediately to mind), I’m not sure anyone does them better. And then there are her spot-on takes of those who are rarely attempted such as Angela Lansbury that absolutely floor me. Of course, mention must be made of her Elaine Stritch, which towers above the rest of the pack. It’s not that she gets just the right amount of gravel in her voice, it’s that she manages to bring her back to life in such vain and narcissistic glory. Above all else, Pedi is an actress.
With able support from her musical director Matthew Michael Ward, Pedi entertained for close to ninety minutes. She was even joined on guitar by her nephew, Sean Michael McCann, who also helped out as her assistant during the evening’s highlight, when Pedi performed her “Twelve Divas of Christmas.” Taking “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song to new heights, she asked audience members to choose from a bag of names that would allow her to improvise the individual lines of the song as a different diva. Everyone from Maggie Smith to Joan Rivers to Bernadette Peters were heard from and it had the audience in convulsive laughter. With these impressions peppered through the whole show, let me say that you haven’t really lived till you’ve heard Pedi as Liza Minnelli sing “Dreidel.”
Again, Pedi proved herself over and over again as adept an actress as she is a singer. When saluting some of the theatrical giants we lost this past year, her melancholy rendition of “Tomorrow” (in tribute to its lyricist Martin Charnin), revealed a voice as rich and textured as Peggy Lee or Teddi King. Of course, the comedy was never too far away, as when channeling Barbra Streisand during a hilarious rendition of “Frosty the Snowman,” Pedi shamelessly cried out “Frosty can you hear me!”
All in all, “Snow Bizness” is a perfect way to keep warm on a cold night as we say goodbye to the last days of the decade. And it’s good to know that Christine Pedi is here to help us get through the next decade (and hopefully many more) to come.
Christine Pedi: Snow Bizness is at Feinstein’s/54 Below December 29th at 9:30 p.m. For reservations: 646-476-3551 www.54below.com