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Christmas the Johnny Mathis Way at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

There are a select few that are born to sing Christmas songs that make the heart glow with holiday happiness and Cerritos was lucky enough to experience one of those over the yuletide weekend. Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Mathis fill the season’s juke boxes and the last in the list was first at the Performing Arts Center on Friday before a packed house of happy folks filled with good cheer and musical memories. While there are many a middle-aged American celebrating this year that are alive thanks to the romantic moods created by a Johnny Mathis album, the man himself seems hardly have aged, especially his sweet and gentle voice. He was relatively casual, wearing an elegant black tuxedo without neck ware in the first half, and then turning to off-white without tie in the second half of the show. To make the evening even grander he had a full orchestra surrounding him and his own quartet that really brought the old chestnuts to a brilliant shine, complete with backup singers and two tall fir trees on stage.

The show was mostly Christmas song-candies including classic Mathis renditions of “Winter Wonderland, “ “Happy Holidays,” “Caroling, Caroling,” “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” a rollicking “Sleigh Ride,” and the perfectly appropriate “A Child Is Born” that rang true across the great hall. Of course, with a repertoire of sixty years on stages Maestro Mathis had to please his fans and performed many of the big ones like “It’s Not for Me to Say,” “Chances Are,” “Misty,” and the gorgeous “the 12th of Never. He also stretched it a little with the newish “We Need a Little Christmas, “ and “Sending You a Little Christmas” along with a surprising finishing kick of a lively Brazilian medley that included “Mas Que Nada,” “Manha de Carnaval” and “Brazil” that got the audience warmed up before departing into the Winter’s night.

The show was broken up delightfully by comedian Brad Upton who kept the large crown in stitches with a clean but absolutely hilarious set highlighted by clever jokes about marriage, children and aging which seemed to resonate with the happy Boomers attending.