by Melissa Griegel
Christmastime would not be complete without listening to the glorious baritone sounds of Norm Lewis’ voice singing us into the holiday season. Norm’s holiday show has been a Feinstein’s/54 Below tradition for the past five years. This year’s “Norm Lewis: Christmastime is Here!” premiered virtually on December 17, and can be viewed on-demand through December 31. Tickets can be purchased for $25 at www.54below.com/NormLewis.
Filmed at Feinstein’s/54 Below the show opens with Norm arriving at 54 Below and taking a walk down those familiar steps to the stage. He is joined by his band: Musical Director Joseph Joubert on keyboards, George Farmer on upright and electric bass, and Perry Cavari on drums and percussion.
Due to COVID, Norm and the band played to an empty room, instead of the usual tables filled with guests. He normally talks to the audience, regales them with stories, and gives out gifts. He did a good job of trying to re-create this by bantering with his band, but it does miss the warmth of the friendly discourse of a live audience. He did invite super fan Gail Gordon and her husband Angelo to be the only invited guests, and brought Gail up on stage. I sat with Gail and Angelo two years ago at Norm’s Christmas show when Nick Cordero was the guest for the evening. Gail attends all his shows every year, and told Norm that she will just have to watch this on-demand every night!
Norm opened the show with My Favorite Things and continued with other holiday favorites such as Santa Baby, Little Drummer Boy, and Mary Did You Know. He occasionally infused his own lyric changes into the songs asking for Hamilton tickets in his stocking and chanting Black Lives Matter.
In addition to holiday songs, Norm added some Broadway into the mix as well. He talked about how much he wanted to be Phantom on Broadway as a young man but never dreamed that the role would be open to him as a person of color. His dream was realized and paved the way for more color-blind and inclusive casting on Broadway. He was so honored to play the lead and sang Music of the Night towards the end of the show.
Norm also played Javert in Les Misérables several times. Instead of singing a song of Javert, he regaled us with one of his favorite songs from the production: Bring Him Home. He said that the actors would refer to that song as The Prayer and it is the song he would most want to sing on stage if he had a different role in the musical.
Pastor Bobby Lewis joined Norm onstage to sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He also sang this on Norm’s album the “The Norm Lewis Christmas Album” which can be found on Amazon.com and cdbaby.com. He did a duet with the always lovely Sierra Boggess. They have worked together many times and sang Lovers on Christmas Eve from “I Love My Wife”.
Watching Norm was a delight. He is very personable and brings his personality alive on stage. It is wonderful that Feinstein’s/54 Below found a way to share Norm with us for this holiday season. I recommend watching the show on demand.
Photos by Melissa Griegel