Concert Review: COMING HOME: THE HOLIDAY CELEBRATION (Michael Feinstein at the Mark Taper Forum)

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by Lawrence Lucero on December 6, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-Los Angeles


What better way to start the holiday season than to spend a Sunday evening with the man with the music, cabaret legend Michael Feinstein, who has single-handedly revitalized the Great American Songbook. Hearing of the pause in subscription programming for the 2023/24 Center Theatre Group season, he asked the new CTG Artistic Director Snehal Desai if he could help. So, after a fifteen-year absence, Feinstein’s at the Taper has returned to CTG’s Mark Taper Forum with this sold-out holiday concert and two more performances in 2024 (February 10 and April 13).

On a festively decorated stage with wrapped presents under multiple Christmas trees, burgundy Persian rugs, and a giant fireplace video projected on the backdrop, the feeling throughout the audience — made up of board members, Blue Ribbon-group donors, and loyal theater patrons — was as if we were in the living room at a party, maybe in the home of Tina Sinatra? Or maybe Marilyn McCoo and Billie Davis Jr., who both happened to be in the Taper house as well.


Dressed up in the finest of cabaret fashion, shiny black shoes, dark slacks and blazer, a white open-collared shirt and his dazzling smile, Feinstein gave us a two-set performance of songs including W.C. Handy’s “The St. Louis Blues,” Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams’ “You and Me Against the World,” the Nat King Cole cover “L-O-V-E,” and a pair of Judy Garland songs with a heartwarming story about Lucille Ball, who once said of Judy’s sense of humor, “Judy makes me feel like a mortician. My writers make me funny. Judy is a naturally funny woman.”


When he sang a Sinatra Medley, it was refreshing that — while the songs are iconically Frank Sinatra — Feinstein’s inimitable style is what we got. While many singers get lost in these standards, he has his own distinctive artistry and interpretation. He is especially a master at ballads. Charismatic, funny, appealing, boyish, excited, and eager to please, he is a consummate showman.

Of course there were the holiday songs — mostly written by Jews — including “The Christmas Song,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. ” A special treat, and part of his very funny Hanukkah shtick, was Tom Lehrer’s “Hanukkah in Santa Monica.” Teamed up with his pristine diction, Feinstein’s mention of his“CHALLA-day show” and the Jewish Tabernacle Choir provided an additional dose of humor to this delightful “who could ask for anything more?” evening. Welcome home, Mr. Feinstein.

photos by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Michael Feinstein in Coming Home: The Holiday Celebration
Feinstein’s at the Taper, part of CTG:FWD
Mark Taper Forum, 135 North Grand Ave
played December 3, 2023
next concerts February 10 and April 13, 2024
for tickets, call 213.628.2772 or visit CTG
for more info, visit
Michael Feinstein

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