There are two genres of music that I love beyond all others: Broadway show tunes, and Christmas music. Somehow I managed to go the last twenty years of my life without the knowledge that once a year, these two completely different genres come together in a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Every year, the casts of current Broadway shows come together to record Christmas songs. Every. Year.
The entire back catalog of Carols for a Cure is available on Spotify, but you can still get all the discs directly from the charity and support their cause. This year, you can even buy a complete box set of the whole run of Christmas tunes. The 2019 disc looks amazing, with such tracks as “Carol of the Beetlebells” by the cast of Beetlejuice, and “Dret Dreydele” by the cast of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. Since the cast of Mean Girls performed “Jingle Bell Rock” last year, this year they have chosen “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
It is really fun to have on in the background while going about my day. Sometimes you just know which cast is singing by the tone of voice, or the lyrics they have changed. When a thick accent sings about getting “three muscle shirts, two pinky rings and a ride in his Lamborghini,” you just know it’s the cast of Jersey Boys. Anything from Avenue Q is instantly recognizable. While the casts of Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera both have the same haunting undertones.
Then there are the oddments, the surprising delights among the typical. Daniel Radcliffe singing “A Christmas Carol” with the 2011 cast of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. As an aside, if you haven’t seen him rap ”Alphabet Aerobics” on The Tonight Show, you are missing out my friend! Then you have Cyndi Lauper and the cast of Kinky Boots singing “Blue Christmas.” They even got Darlene Love in on the action, singing “All Alone on Christmas” with the cast of Hairspray in 2005. A Christmas Gift from Phil Spector is, in my opinion, one of the finest Christmas albums ever produced, and her version of “White Christmas” is second only to Bing himself. There are pop ups from current Broadway darlings. Rachel Bay Jones originated the role of Heidi Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen, but can be found with the 2013 cast of Pippin singing “The Cherry Tree Carol.” Likewise Jennifer Thompson, who portrayed Carol Murphy, Connor’s mom, can be found with the cast of Wicked from 2004. Kristin Chenoweth missed the cut, but Idina Menzel is in there from that first year of Wicked, along with a few along the years from Bernadette Peters.
There is a nice variety of classic songs and also some new, Broadway-specific, Christmas tunes. The back catalog and talent contained in these 19 years is simply astounding, and I may not be done enjoying this by the time Christmas Day arrives.