When I heard that Christmas in New York would be returning to London for one night only, with Broadway star Eden Espinosa headlining, I had to go along. It also seemed fitting, seeing as I was headed to New York City a couple of days afterwards.
The once-annual concert, which started in 2006 (and I saw its last show at the Prince of Wales in 2009 before a four-year hiatus), is a celebration of all things Christmas, with more merry songs than you can shake a stick at.
With a company of rising stars, plus Espinosa and special guest Julie Atherton, the concert at the Palace Theatre followed in the vein of previous years, which saw performers including Hannah Waddingham, Louise Dearman, Oliver Tompsett, Anna-Jane Casey and Daniel Boys take the stage.
Act One started nicely enough, with a rendition of the title song from the company, which included Scott Garnham (Title of Show), Tori Allen-Martin (RENT), Lucy May Barker (Spring Awakening, Sweeney Todd), Luke Kempner (LIFT), Zoe Rainey (Wicked) and Andy Coxon (Les Miserables).
Things started warming up with the presence of Atherton (fresh from her weekend concerts at the St James Theatre), who sang a version of Tori Amos' "Winter". Other highlights from the first half included a comedy "Baby It's Cold Outside" by Scott Garnham and Tori Allen-Martin and "When You Believe" (from The Prince of Egypt) from Atherton and Andy Coxon.
Act Two felt a whole lot more Christmassy. Eden Espinosa, who gave a great performance last week at our WhatsOnStage Awards launch, kicked off proceedings with a sing-a-long-a "Silent Night". We were then treated to the title song from A Christmas Story, sung by Espinosa and Scott Garnham plus Christmas classics including "Winter Wonderland", "Santa Baby" and "White Christmas".
Special mention should go to Julie Atherton's rendition of "My Simply Christmas Wish" (one from the CD I'd been hoping for), and the evening was rounded off with Espinosa leading a rousing "O Holy Night", joined by the whole company plus some first years from the Musical Theatre Academy.
The evening wasn't without fault, but it was great to see Christmas in New York back in the West End and setting a suitably festive mood. New York, here I come!