When Scott Bradley and Alan Schmuckler's pointedly alternative Yuletide offering premiered in 2012, it came with plenty of pleasures—particularly Schmuckler's poppy tunes and the giddy central conceit of queering A Christmas Carol and making the three spirits of Christmas incarnations of Liza Minnelli. The trouble was an overabundance of business surrounding this core: Bradley's book spent too much time establishing a still confusing back story for the Scrooge figure, bitter gay designer Conrad Ticklebottom, and the cast was stuffed with extraneous characters.
Happily, Bradley and Schmuckler took another pass at the concept, and this year's We Three Lizas is greatly improved and a great time. Bradley's major overhaul of the book streamlines the story and the cast size, making clearer arcs for Conrad (Scott Duff) and his put-upon assistant, Reggie (Dana Tretta).
And if it still takes a tad too long to get to the title attractions, Bradley at least gives their portrayers more to do; now they open the show as a cross between Macbeth's three witches and the Three Wise Men, here to make Conrad face his destiny. Conrad's obsession with getting a celebrity endorsement from Judy's most fabulous offspring results in their re-manifesting as the three ages of Liza.
Or something like that, anyway. The plot follows a stronger internal logic than it previously did, and once Danielle Plisz dances onstage as the daffily drunk Liza Was, you'll stop caring about the how and the why. The infectiously goofy Plisz, Mark David Kaplan's shakily present Liza Is and Bethany Thomas's all-seeing Liza Always are reason enough for the season.
Schmuckler's score includes some really lovely tunes (you could see the sweet romantic number "Please Handle With Care" becoming a new seasonal standard), and Patrick Andrews's engaging choreography is well executed particularly by Plisz and cheekily hunky backup boys John Francisco and Andrew Swan. For those in search of a little holiday irreverence, We Three Lizas 2.0 could be a new favorite carol.