Broadway's Stephanie J. Block Preps For The Holidays With A Fresh Take On 1970s Classic

HuffPost has a first listen to the title track of the Tony-winning actor and singer's new album, "Merry Christmas, Darling."
Broadway actor and singer Stephanie J. Block will unveil a holiday album, "Merry Christmas, Darling," Nov. 3.
Broadway actor and singer Stephanie J. Block will unveil a holiday album, "Merry Christmas, Darling," Nov. 3.
Jeremy Ryan

Broadway’s Stephanie J. Block is getting a head start on the holiday season this week by unveiling a new album.

HuffPost caught an early listen to the actor and singer’s tender rendition of “Merry Christmas, Darling” ahead of the album’s Friday release by Club44 Records. The song, which is also the record’s title track, was first made famous in 1970 by the Carpenters.

In putting her own spin on the song, Block told HuffPost she hoped to imbue listeners with the essence of “being wrapped in a warm blanket.”

“I kept using the term, ‘like chewy caramel,’” she quipped.

Listen to Stephanie J. Block’s “Merry Christmas, Darling” below.

A California native, Block has been a stalwart of New York’s theater scene since making her Broadway debut opposite Hugh Jackman in 2003’s “The Boy from Oz.”

Since then, she’s won acclaim for her performances in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “Falsettos” and, most recently, “Into the Woods,” among other hit musicals. She’s also branched out into television, appearing on “Orange is the New Black” and “Madam Secretary.”

Amid her successes on stage and screen, Block said that recording a holiday album has been on her bucket list for years. Her dream began to take shape two years ago, when she released her version of “O Holy Night.”

Fittingly, “Merry Christmas, Darling” is also a family affair. Block’s husband, fellow actor and singer Sebastian Arcelus, is featured on the original track “When You Hold Me in Your Arms (It’s Christmas).” The couple’s 8-year-old daughter, Vivienne, makes a guest appearance on “Little Drummer Girl,” a gender-swapped take on “Little Drummer Boy.”

In 2019, Stephanie J. Block won a Tony Award for "The Cher Show."
In 2019, Stephanie J. Block won a Tony Award for "The Cher Show."
Jemal Countess via Getty Images

“I mentioned to my daughter that I needed to write a little press blurb about my upcoming Christmas album and she responded, ‘Our Christmas album,’” Block recalled. “My initial thought response was to laugh and shake my head, but after a brief moment I realized her comment was exactly right.”

“Merry Christmas, Darling” comes toward the end of a fruitful year for Block. In February, she starred as Norma Desmond in a Washington, D.C., staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of “Sunset Boulevard.” She and Arcelus also reprised their roles from last year’s Broadway revival of “Into the Woods” across the country on a national tour.

The album’s release seems auspiciously timed, coming just weeks after the debut of “Christmas,” Cher’s first-ever holiday album. As theatergoers may recall, Block worked closely with the legendary diva before portraying her in the 2019 bio-musical “The Cher Show,” for which she won a Tony Award.

Though Block insists the timing is pure coincidence, she’s come to appreciate the unexpected connection.

“I received a text from her a while back saying, ‘We will be bonded together for life, babe,’” she said. “I hope this is one of the many examples of that bond.”

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