“A Winter Spectacular,” the holiday cabaret currently playing at the Wick Theatre and Costume Museum in Boca Raton, is a priceless musical gift to South Florida audiences, wrapped in a shiny package with a big red bow.
Marilynn Wick, founder and executive producer, is a stickler for detail and the stage for her holiday extravaganza is literally set in the exquisitely decorated lobby, complete with a full-sized antique sleigh and lit with a stand of twinkling Christmas trees. But, the true magic was to be found inside the theater.
Cabaret legend Marilyn Maye commanded the equally festive stage with an upbeat mix of holiday favorites and jazz standards, backed up by a live band. A rainbow-themed medley of “Over the Rainbow” and “Rainbow Connection” soon led into “Golden Rainbow,” in an up-tempo arrangement from her best-selling album “Super Singer.” In keeping with the Christmas theme, she whipped through “Winter Wonderland,” accompanied by a quartet of tween-aged singers and dancers, and a medley of “White Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Mistletoe and Holly.”
At 93 and the record-holder for most appearances on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” Maye is the reigning queen of cabaret, still maintaining a busy schedule of appearances at swanky jazz clubs like Michael Feinstein’s 54 Below and the Rainbow Room.
For this engagement, Wick also booked the rising “prince” of cabaret, Nicholas King, who first won over South Florida audiences last year, performing in a socially distanced setting in the theater lobby during the reopening.
King may be young enough to be Maye’s grandson (his first professional gig was 25 years ago as “Chip” in “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway), but he clearly would have held his own in an earlier generation, channeling the stylings of the Rat Pack for his opening set with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and “Sleigh Ride,” both sung to cool ‘60s bossa nova rhythms.
And just one day after composer Stephen Sondheim passed away, King offered a moving tribute to the composer — along with some subtle social commentary — by singing “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods.”
It’s safe to say the future of cabaret is in good hands with King’s vocal skills and buoyant personality. He’s even a pretty decent tap dancer, the audience soon discovered.
Both singers offered inspired performances throughout the two-hour program, accompanied by pianist Rich Switzer and guitarist Rod Fleeman, with Jaime Ousley on bass and Frank Derrick on drums, all shining in each and every masterfully crafted arrangement. Each musical number was tastefully punctuated by animated videos designed by Josieu T. Jean and projected behind the musicians.
“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” proved to be the perfect closing for this holiday treat that dishes up a healthy serving of Christmas, a little Hannukah and plenty of old-fashioned standards. If you’re still looking for the perfect present for a music lover in the family, skip the gift cards and reserve your tickets to “A Winter Spectacular” at the Wick today.
“A Winter Spectacular,” starring Marilyn Maye and Nicholas King, is being performed through Dec. 19 at the Wick Theatre and Costume Museum, 7901 N. Federal Hwy. in Boca Raton. Tickets start at $75 at TheWick.org.