by Matt Robert
And there’s a trailer park at Nick’s.
“It’s definitely a departure from the general look of Nick’s,” laughs Nicole Watson as Vincent Hemmeter toils away behind her building—a replica mobile home on the Nick’s stage, usually a demure, warmly lit home for area performers of cabaret jazz, American standards, and assorted other roots music and curiosities. The temporary remodel, which might surprise Nick’s regulars, includes “lots of plastic light-up decorations and things you would never normally see on the Nick’s stage.”
The set will provide the backdrop for Nick’s Very Merry Camped-up Christmas Show, at 9 p.m., on Thursday night, December 13, at Nick’s Bar and Restaurant, 124 Millbury Street in Worcester.
The event, what Watson calls “sort of a John Waters Christmas,” is a holiday revue done Nick’s style. “We just want it really campy and really cheesy, kind of cheap,” she says. “It’ll be a lot of fun.” Besides campy mayhem, the show will feature the usual roster of high quality talent Nick’s is known for. Watson says there will be “countless performers,” including the likes of Clayton Willoughby, Geoffrey Watson-Oehling, Aimee Kewley, Jen Antkowiak, Joan Cleary, Michael Gondeck, Monica Hamilton and Patrice Peris, along with musical directors, singers Lisa Hall and pianist Tom LaMark interspersed with short comedy sets by Shaun Connolly. Watson herself has “a few songs [she’ll] perform with Tom LaMark,” as well.
“We have an overly ambitious schedule for this,” she says of the event, which is more than just an ambitious send-up of Christmas cheer. “We also have a Santa who will be visiting – people can have their pictures taken. He’s a little irreverent. Santa will be handing out some gifts, as well.”
But that’s not all, folks! “There’s going to be some trivia, and we have prizes for the trivia,” she adds.
Prior to the party, Nick’s fixture Cocktail Bob will host a 7 p.m. presentation of a flaming punch, cherished by Charles Dickens and famous during the Victorian era.
“Cocktail Bob has done a couple different presentations for us. What he’s doing right now is a flaming Dickens punch to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens,” says Watson. “He’s going to do a little demonstration, give the history of it, talk about Dickens for a few minutes and then have a tasting. It’s a 200-year-old – or even older – recipe for Dickens’ favorite punch. That’ll be what the sampling is.”
Once revelers get a little of this in the belly for warmth, “that leads to caroling, which will be at 8 o’clock” on the Nick’s patio.
“I’ve got some singers that I know that are going to get things started,” says Watson. “We’re going to give free cocoa and cookies to carolers out there and that’ll be probably about 45 minutes long. And that’s free to the public. Children could be involved in that, unlike the punch thing and the naughty Christmas show.”
“9 p.m. is when the Camped-up Christmas Show begins,” she says.
“Lisa will be the host” and “she’s performing,” as well, says Watson. The cabaret singer, she says, “sings on a fairly regular basis at Nick’s,” is “sort of a Nick’s favorite and…has a lot of charisma.”
“So, I went to her and asked her if she was interested in sort of organizing the performers and being the host.” The result, says Watson, is that “she’s been doing a lot of the hard work, getting the musical acts together, while I sit around wrapping the presents.”
This year’s event is a first, Watson says, though it has its roots in last year’s Christmas celebration. “Last year when we had a Christmas show, it was just remarkable to me how many people wanted to be involved and sing along. We had a variety show that was similar last year, but not to this epic proportion.”
“I was really encouraged by it, because I wasn’t really sure how well a holiday show would go over,” she says. “You know, during the holiday season people can get kind of burned out, but people seemed to really enjoy it. I think the laid-back, campy theme will be pretty hilarious. I can say this honestly as we’re building a trailer that’s going to live onstage right now.”
According to Watson, they’ve been working on the show for a couple of months. “We’ve been meeting pretty much every week, discussing ideas, what the set lists are, what the songs are.”
And what exactly can we expect to hear at a Nick’s Christmas show? “Anything from ‘Santa Baby’ to ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ to pretty much everything in between,” says Watson. “One of the performers is going to be doing ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.’ Clayton Willoughby has a fantastic set of Hawaiian Christmas songs that he’ll be doing.”
“I think a lot of them will be pretty familiar, but there will be some interesting stuff thrown in there as well,” she says. “For example, the Hawaiian songs and some other stuff out of the American songbook – more winter songs are being performed as well,” Watson says, to assure that it won’t, as she says, “necessarily all [be] Christmas songs,” adding, “we’re not [going to] drive everyone crazy with a constant barrage of Christmas music.”
“It’s definitely more of a party atmosphere. It’s not scripted. Obviously the musical numbers are all worked out, but people can sing along.”
“We’re looking forward to it,” says Watson. “Tom LaMark is such a great pianist, and some of the silly and more suggestive numbers – it definitely won’t be like a walk in the mall.”