Saturday, November 16, 2013

Just in Time for Christmas

Listening to Natalie Toro on her new CD, “Just in Time for Christmas,” I hear in her voice the qualities that make her so magnetic onstage and in person. In these seven songs, the warmth and joy that she embodies shine brightly.

Among her many stage roles, Toro was a fearsome Madame DeFarge in Broadway’s A Tale of Two Cities. I’ve loved her first CD, Natalie Toro, for years. Then I was fortunate to meet her when she sang “Where Is It Written?” from “Yentl” for Broadway Blessing’s 15th anniversary celebration in 2011. All of us who met and worked with her loved her.

The songs on “Just in Time for Christmas” are a mix of old and new. In the title track by David Friedman and David Zippel, she sings about how the loneliness and commercialism of Christmas -- when “the holidays were something to get through” and “I was sure my faith has all run out” -- were transformed by love and “just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about.” Fans of Friedman’s songs will love it.

The CD includes two lively duets -- “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Ryan Kelly and a Latin-flavored “I’ll be Home for Christmas” with Jon Secada -- and a gorgeous blend of “Ave Maria and O Holy Night.” Rounding out the recording are “The Christmas Song,” which she infuses with new life, “Once Upon a Christmas Song” by Gary Barlow and Peter Kay and “Our First Christmas Together” by James Kimball Gannon, Walter Kent and Buck Ram.

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