Pretty much everything Kristin Chenoweth touches is magical and Christmas is no different.
The dozen tracks on the Broadway and TV actor’s “Happiness Is... Christmas” showcase an artist who can go from angelic to vixen, funny to heartfelt.
It’s her first holiday offering since 2008′s “A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas” and it kicks off with a medley — “Happiness (Is Christmas)”/“Christmas Time Is Here” — that includes a sly tribute to one of her musicals, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Later, try not to swing dance to another medley, the jazzy “(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag”/“Jingle Bell Rock.”
Her “Merry Christmas Baby” with Keb’ Mo’ is so sexy it might be raunchy (and, yes, a raunchy Christmas song is just what we need.) One tune later, “Christmas Lullaby,” is ethereal and celestial. Her version of the Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas, Darling” has a slight twang and deep melancholy.
And it’s not all Christmas. In a nod to inclusiveness, she absolutely shines signing Stephen Schwartz’s “The Chanukah Song (We Are Lights).” Later she will make you crack up with Andrew Lippa’s “Santa, I’ve Got a Bone To Pick With You!” (“I got a thong/But then my mother got the same”). Chenoweth, Christmas, classic.
— Mark Kennedy