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"Hartford deserves this!" squealed the international chanteuse, Miss Varla Jean Merman, scratching the city off her holiday gift list. "What better way to show the great State of Connecticut that I'm in the holiday spirits than by giving them the best gift ever - a great big piece of MYSELF!" That's right! The six-foot-two, flame-tressed holiday hoofer has selected Hartford as the recipient of her annual Yuletide extravaganza, Varla Jean Merman's Holiday Ham! Hartford Stage welcomes the legendary, self-proclaimed love-child of Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman for one performances on Friday, December 19th, 2003! "La Merm" has always believed that the holidays are a time to be with friends. But until she can find some, she's resorted to hiring three incredible performers to join her in Hartford: pianist extraordinaire Ricky Ritzel, little drummer-girl Denise Fraser and New York theatre star Maggie Moore. In Holiday Ham, Varla takes on the Grinch (and Shirley Bassey) in the explosive "Silver and Goldfinger," makes Barbara Streisand's "Jingle Bells" an anthem to religious harmony, and belts out a jaw-dropping (not to mention gown-dropping) version of Rosemary Clooney's classic "Suzy Snowflake." And what holiday show would be complete without the Harlem Boys Choir? Well, this one. This year, Hartford will be singing "Varla-la-la-la!"

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