Asbury Park Press Interview

Debbie Gibson promises ‘nostalgia and warmth’ on tour for holiday album ‘Winterlicious’

Debbie Gibson is feeling festive.

The Brooklyn-born, Long Island-raised pop superstar is ready to bring some holiday cheer to area stages as she hits the road in support of “Winterlicious,” her new collection of seasonal music released in October via her Stargirl Records.

“I really want it to be like those awesome holiday specials we used to watch as kids and, for me, (it will be) like going to Disney and seeing those theme park shows,” said Gibson. “It’s going to be that kind of dose of nostalgia and warmth and festivity.”

“Debbie Gibson’s Winterlicious: An Evening of Holiday and Hits” plays the Vogel at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank on Wednesday, Nov. 30, followed by engagements Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Paramount in Huntington, N.Y., and Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Event Center at Rivers Casino in Philadelphia.

Gibson promises a stage spectacular with holiday favorites and classics of her own re-worked to fit the spirit of the season, delivered with plenty of yuletide razzle dazzle.

“I want to really give people those song and dance numbers,” Gibson said. “I spend a lot my life living in a modern rock ’n’ roll mindset, like the way I (typically) perform, but this is a really fun reason to go back to those Broadway roots and that more theatrical sound and presentation.”

Her “Winterlicious” opener, a jolly and jazzy romp through “Let it Snow” bolstered by a 36-piece orchestra, nods to Gibson’s time on the Great Bright Way in the ’90s and early 2000s, when she played the likes of Rizzo in “Grease,” Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” Eponine in “Les Miserables” and Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.”

Each of her Broadway roles tasked Gibson with putting her own spin on well-worn classics that have been sung by countless other performers — a skill that came in handy while recording an album of holiday music.

“(On ‘Let it Snow’), I can tell that I’ve listened to a lot of Rosemary Clooney. I can tell that I’ve done Broadway and worked with arrangers that have had a foot in Broadway and jazz and all of those worlds,” said Gibson.

In that performance, she explained, “I’m not doing a ton of vocal gymnastics. There’s a lot of subtle vocal stylings in that performance that I definitely think are influenced by Broadway, and in a way feel like I’m playing a role. I mean, it feels like a movie musical to me.”

“Winterlicious” also boasts several new Gibson originals: the heartfelt anthem “The Gift”; the lovely Hanukkah song “Illuminate”; and the New Year’s Eve ode to fresh starts “Cheers!”

Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block teams up with Gibson for the bittersweet duet “Holiday Heartbreak,” and she duets with her father, Joe, on “White Christmas.”

“I put (the album) on in my car and celebrate,” said Gibson. “I go, ‘Wow, this is the record I always wished to make for the holidays. So that’s a great feeling. … It really reflects all of the elements that I’ve been inspired by in holiday music over my 52 years on this planet.”

Arriving 35 years after her smash 1987 debut album “Out of the Blue,” “Winterlicious” is part of a flurry of activity for Gibson. She released “The Body Remembers,” her first album of original material in 20 years, in 2021, and earlier this year she co-starred with Anthony Michael Hall in the film “The Class.”

“I just do things when the inspiration hits — and it’s been really hitting a lot in the last couple of years,” Gibson said. “To put out two records in 14 months is pretty ambitious, … but it’s been amazing. Especially my die-hard fans, I think, have waited a long time for this moment, and everybody’s really celebrating together.”

Go: “Debbie Gibson’s Winterlicious: An Evening of Holiday and Hits,” doors at 6:30 p.m. and show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, Vogel, Count Basie Center for the Arts, 99 Monmouth St., Red Bank, $69.50 to $99.50;

Also: Doors at 7 p.m. and show at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington, N.Y., $32.50 to $77.75, VIP packages available;


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