Whatever their status or provenance, they are there on a musical pilgrimage, to see a boyish, middle-aged Jewish man sing Christmas carols. The club is Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency on the Upper East Side, and the man is Michael Feinstein, the singer and pianist who has become the chief spokesman for and preservationist of the Great American Songbook. For his devoted fans, his annual holiday series, which this year features a 12-piece band and is titled “Swing in the Holidays,” is as much a Christmas season ritual as catching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall or visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
But for all the shows’ seasonal trimmings, the religious aspect of Christmas is conspicuously absent. Santa Claus, mistletoe, snowy wonderlands and hopes for peace on earth proliferate, but the Nativity remains backstage.
Mr. Feinstein, being Jewish, is a good-humored champion of Hanukkah. At last week’s opening night performance of his new show, “Swing In the Holidays,” he and the 12-piece Winter Wonderland Big Band (many of his usual musicians under the direction of John Oddo) took the popular children’s ditty “I Have a Little Dreidel,” a k a “Dreidel Song,” and conjured the sound and style of an imaginary Frank Sinatra Hanukkah album.