It's that time of year when award winning Broadway star and International Recording artist, James Barbour will bring holiday cheer to New York City with his annual Holiday Concert. This year's concert will take place at New York City's theatre hotspot 54 Below (254 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on December 7 at 11pm and December 12 at 7pm.
1. Once again, you will be performing your annual holiday concerts, but this year they are at 54 below on December 7 & 12. What made you want to change venues for this year's concerts? I had been an audience member at a friend's concert there and I thought the space was absolutely beautiful. Within short time the team at 54 Below approached me about appearing there and as luck would have it I was in the planning stages for my 2013 Holiday Concerts. The idea of changing venues came simply because I wanted to bring my audiences (more like extended family) to a new venue. I just like to change things up every once in a while.
2. What does 54 Below offer you that another venue does not? I think each venue is unique and 54 Below is not only beautifully designed it has the sense of being in an upscale club somewhere in Europe. I'm excited to perform there.
3. What can fans expect from this year's concerts that they might not have seen in previous years? Yeah...my favorite part. New music selections, great guests (as always) maybe an additional instrument or two and I'm trying my hand at the acoustic guitar (no promises) on a song. Plus the venue.
4. One concert staple you keep in each year, which I hope this year will be the same, is having various members of the audience perform with you for "Twelve Days of Christmas." How did you decide you wanted to have this interaction with your audiences this way? What do you enjoy most about this part of your concert? I love this part of the show. I'm a big goof on the inside and although I tend to play these dark brooding roles on Broadway, growing up it was all about making each other laugh and having fun. I wanted to bring that part of my life to the show. Interaction with the audience is vital to me. It's why I do what I do. Without the audiences and fans we would be performing in a vacuum and that would not be fun. So with 12 Days of Christmas we can all join in together and participate in the joys of the season. At this point the Holiday Concert regulars actually put first dibs in for their "day" when they show up to the venue. Literally people grab my arms and say "I want 6 Geese A Laying" or "We are 5 Golden Rings, make sure our table gets 5 Golden Rings" It's a load of fun.
5. Going back a little bit, what made you initially want to have an annual holiday concert? What has been the best part about watching it grow into what it has become today? It came out of A Tale Of Two Cities closing on Broadway. I've always been a big Holiday fan. It's my favorite time of the year and I've had this vision to bring back the Bing Crosby specials of old. In fact years ago my old producing partner and I actually pitched a version of the Bing shows and were vey close to getting it produced on network TV.
So when Tale closed it was just before the Holidays so I thought...why not do a Holiday Concert and I was going to present it in an Off-Broadway house and make an actual show of it (something I'm actually in the process of completing now for the future). But that time I had a conversation with my friend Hershey Felder about the idea. Hershey's got the one man show format down and has become incredibly successful in doing so. We chatted about idea and he suggested that I present them in a space where I can be close to the audience rather than removed like I would be in a theatre. I took his advice, spoke to Max Klimivicus at Sardi's and the rest is history. I'm grateful to Max for opening up his doors to me. He's been a great supporter and has become a good friend. I'll be back there with some other events in the near future.
6. What do you love most about spending the holidays in New York City? NYC is THE destination for the holidays. Miracle On 34th Street! Macy's, the Tree at Rock Center, the window dressings, the lights. I once saw about 30 Santa's all piled into one coffee shop near the corner of Broadway and 52nd street. I mean where else can you see that?
7. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Wow...well now that I have two amazing kids my family is reliving those wonderful traditions my wife and I had when we were children. Cookies and milk (almond milk in our house) for Santa and carrots for the reindeer left out on the fireplace hearth. Christmas music (if I had my way it would be 24/7) playing in the house. Decorating the house with lights and such. But perhaps the most important tradition is family. I made a point, no matter where I was in the world to be home for Christmas. I would fly in, train in, drive in just to be home with my mother, father and sister. It's vitally important to me. Now that both my parents are gone and I have my own family, those same values hold true. No matter what religion or what holiday you celebrate (and even if your not religious and don't celebrate an holiday) spending time with family is imperative so that is my favorite holiday tradition...remembering and being with family.
8. Since starting your holiday concerts, have you adopted any new traditions for the holidays? Well my Holiday Concerts have now become a tradition. I've been asked to perform them all over the world which is a wonderful gift.
9. What are some of your favorite holiday foods? I'm all about deserts but I would have to say my favorite is Apple Pie.
10. If you could have one Christmas wish come true, what would it be? Both my parents have passed....my wish is that they could have met their grandchildren and that my kids could have met them.
James Barbour was nominated for the Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Awards for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of "Sydney Carton" in the Broadway musical version of A Tale of Two Cities, and won the Sarasota Magazine Best Actor Award for the Asolo Rep pre-Broadway production. He has starred on Broadway in such Tony-Award winning shows as Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as "The Beast," Carousel as "Billy Bigelow", Urinetown as "Officer Lockstock" and as "Edward Rochester" in Jane Eyre (Drama League Award nomination). He also appeared in the Broadway production of Cyrano and the national tour of The Secret Garden.
His voice can be heard on the upcoming international recording of A Tale of Two Cities, the PS Classics recording of Assassins, the Sony Classical cast recording of Jane Eyre, The Gift on Geffen Records, the upcoming release of Frank Wildhorn’s Dracula, as well as on the live CD recording of his self-produced stage show Broadway in Concert (for which he won an LA WEEKLY Garland Award).
His television credits range from the pilots of The District, Just Shoot Me, and Flashpoint to appearances on Sex and the City, Ed, That’s Life, Some Enchanted Evening: Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein (PBS), Beauty and the Beast: A Concert on Ice (CBS), the PBS mini-series American Experience: John & Abigail Adams (playing "Thomas Jefferson") and the upcoming film version of A Tale of Two Cities for public television.
Film credits include Alchemy (Tribeca Film Festival and ABC Family) starring opposite Tom Cavanagh and Sarah Chalke; Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights, Waiting for Lefty, The Tell-Tale Heart and Twinkle Toes with Sally Kirkland.
As an author and producer, James is responsible for creating three concert series, James Barbour: The Holiday Concert and Love Songs (both at New York City’s famed Sardi’s Restaurant) and Back From Broadway/Broadway in Concert (the latter in conjunction with Steinway Concert Artist Hershey Felder).
James is considered one of the most sought-after performers on Broadway today. He is on the A-list of actors asked to develop new works for the industry’s leading writers and composers including Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Frank Wildhorn, and Christopher Durang to name a few. He is currently developing a new musical concert called The Romantics.
His voice can be heard on the cast recordings of JANE EYRE, ASSASSINS and A TALE OF TWO CITES as well as his own CD’s BRING ME GIANTS and THE GIFT OF CHRISTMAS.
James is also the host of the critically acclaimed international radio show THE STAR POWER HOUR on Empowerment Channel of www.VoiceAmerica.com.