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Santa Songs 2015 comments

What people are saying about Santa Songs (2015)

“I went to Santa Songs at Piano forte on December 6th, 2015. Daniel Johnson has put together a great show. Full of classic holiday stories and songs that you may or may not know. Daniel brings his obvious love of the season and his subject to the stage with wit, joy, and presence. His open-hearted performance is free of ego or pretense and invites us to enjoy the wonder of St. Nick through his own admiring gaze.”

Theo Geer

“You did a wonderful job of telling the many stories about that jolly old man, Santa.  I learned a lot from you.  I loved how you so skillfully wove the songs and stories together into a captivating holiday cabaret show.

I sat there thinking how great this show would be for audiences looking for a different kind of Christmas season show but which still has some of the familiar melodies along with the new and continues to honor the joy, love and spirit of the season. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Carol Weston

Chicago Cabaret Professionals Advisory Board

“I should preface this by sharing that I’m not typically a fan of the Christmas season. I’m actually a bit of a grinch. Some friends invited me to see this show, however, and I’m glad I attended. There’s a sense of whimsy and gentleness that I’ve been missing in this season, and I found it again with Daniel. He’s brought together an excellent repertoire of storytelling and song and got me laughing while he shared it! For at least the time I was watching, I regained a childhood sense of wonder regarding Ol’ St. Nick that I barely recognized. Daniel evokes a sense of warmth and light while he presents, and I don’t know if I’ll ever feel so welcomed into an experience like this again.”

George McGeorge




Away they all flew: Afterglow 2015

When I had the opportunity to play Kris Kringle in “Miracle on 34th Street” I knew I had a unique acting challenge.  Playing a real person is hard enough but playing a real person, who believes himself to be a magical spirit, and the embodiment of a legend, was very demanding.

I decided to base my characterization in the reality of expertise.  In my imaginary biography Kris was a man who set out to know everything he could about St. Nicholas and Father Christmas, and who was recognized as an expert (as an importer of hand crafted toys and successful author of holiday mail order catalogs).  Then through family connections he was covertly honored by a group of magicians to represent the spirit ritually.  Through this experience Kris claimed the right to his identity as the “real” Santa (or at least the elected representative for a group of true believers).

But I thought Kris’ also needed to be an entertainer.  I posited that when his “expertise” ceased to support him (I imagined his company was taken from him in a hostile take-over), he decided to make an exhibit of himself for the entertainment of others: and he took to the vaudeville stage with a Christmas act.

Those three elements, his expertise, his belief in his own validity and his desire to entertain were the elements on which I hung my characterization.  After playing Kris Kringle with those imaginary given circumstances, it occurred to me that I might also have a “Christmas Act” making use of what I had learned, imagined and performed.  That’s the rich background to Santa Songs.

So it’s not surprising when people find depth in my conception of what is supposed to be a light holiday entertainment.  People are amazed that there are “so many Santa songs!”  Well, when I couldn’t find a song I needed to tell my story completely, I sought out a friendly composer and had them written!  I also adapted and wrote others myself.  Then I lived with the material for several years and tweaked the program until it did what I had originally conceived.

I wanted to do justice to the historical truth and the magical appeal of the character joyously told through song and story.   But this is not easily conveyed to the general public and Santa Songs has yet to achieve its promise in terms of finding a wider audience.  People who see it are consistently impressed and entertained.  But the next challenge is to find that larger audience.

Santa Songs 2015 Tickets on Sale

Tickets have gone on sale for the 2015 edition of “Santa Songs: A Christmas Cabaret.”   Daniel Johnson’s one-man show celebrating the heritage of that embodiment of holiday spirit we know as Father Christmas, Old St. Nick or Santa Claus; joyously told through story and song.


One evening only, Sunday Dec. 6 at 7:00 p.m. at PianoForte, located at 1335 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago.  Tickets are $12, and can be purchased by calling 800.838.3006 or by visiting .

Santa Songs revival in the works!

With Halloween looming our attention is already turning to the 2015 revival of our Christmas show: Santa Songs.  For video highlights of last season’s rendition please see the tab above.

Here are some comments from previous season’s sponsors:

“Premier Arts is proud to have been involved in the gestational stage of Santa Songs: A Christmas Cabaret, a unique musical entertainment that ‘tells the truth’ about Santa Claus in a most amusing way.”

Craig Gibson Executive Artistic Director Premier Arts

“Daniel Johnson lit up our Restaurant at Amish Acres with his cabaret! Our patrons were mesmerized by his vocal prowess, and the heart-warming atmosphere he created while they enjoyed their meal.  He truly helped ring in the holiday season for us!”

Jeremy Littlejohn, Artistic Director Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres

“Daniel Johnson is a consummate entertainer. His Santa Songs, the profits from which he generously donated to our organization, truly makes the Yuletide season sparkle by providing a delightful evening of song and story. His fine vocal talents, his selection of material, and his stage presence combine to bring Santa to life for audiences of all ages; he even has the Jolly Elf’s twinkle in his eye! Daniel’s talent and showmanship will certainly brighten the day of anyone fortunate enough to see one of his shows.”

James Kollenbroich, Past President Chicago Temple, Brotherhood of the Phoenix

For 2015 I’m happy once again to be working with the accomplished and popular music director Mark Burnell with whom we will be perfecting this tried and true holiday entertainment. We have chosen a more accessible time and venue at PianoForte, Sunday, December 6:  for more details on this year’s offering please visit Brown Paper tickets at .

St. Bridget Delivers Me

Personal business too momentous for this blog has held my attention since the first of the year. See my Facebook page for more on that news.

Better late than never, however, to note that the 2013 Santa Songs in Lakeview was a success. I had larger audiences than before and the sponsors made money. I enjoyed my collaboration with Matthew Ellenwood (Music Director/Accompanist) and look forward to more work with him in the future.

The creative sparks of the winter fires have been lighting my way to new projects. I have clear musical plans for the rest of the winter and spring. St. Bridget shown bright at Imbolc.

Most notably, my vision for a Chicago cabaret act supplemental to the Songs for the Season scheme has started to gel. I’ve made no secret of my enthusiasm for Cole Porter. I believe I have found a way to approach a Cole Porter show featuring many of his best comedy songs which will tell the story of his private motives and his inner circle. This is going into development now. More details as they emerge.

Last year I worked up a “Birdsong Medley” which I hope to perform along with “Spring is Here” and “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.” Venue TBD. I have applied to participate in Strut Your Stuff with CCP in April and have a plan for that also should it come to fruition.

Praise to the Goddess for lighting the way through the dark winter hours. I’m full of inner fire.

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