Original Article By Roger Catlin December 9, 2011
The Washington Post
Just 22, Florrie Bagel of Bethesda has been featured in a couple dozen local productions in the past four years — from a Signature Theatre production of “Into the Woods” while she was still at Walter Johnson High School to a Kennedy Center touring production of “Nobody’s Perfect.”
She moved to New York earlier this year, but was asked back by associate artistic director Matthew Gardiner to take part in Signature’s seasonal sugarplum of a cabaret show, “Holiday Follies,” which starts Tuesday and runs through Dec. 23.
She’ll be part of an ensemble that includes Priscilla Cuellar, Jake Odmark, Alan Wiggins and Weslie Woodley, with special guests slated every night.
The singer with the big personality recently sat with a soy cappuccino at Tryst in Adams Morgan to extol the carols of a tradition that weren’t necessarily hers and tell the story behind a name that one doesn’t always expect to go with holiday follies. Candy Cane, sure; Christine Kringle, maybe. But Florrie Bagel?
“It’s my real name. And Florrie is not short for anything; it’s just Florrie. My mom wanted to name me after my great-grandmother, whose name was Fanny. But I always say going through life with the name Fanny Bagel would have been so cruel, you know, awful. So I’m very thankful for that. She was looking for an F name and she stumbled across a naming book with about 14 different spellings of Florrie, and she really fell in love with it. I think it fits me rather well.
“And as for Bagel being my last name — again, I get a kick out of that all the time. People, when I was in kindergarten, would threaten to eat me, and I’d be running around, like, ‘Nooo!’ Or I’d get the joke, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if your first name was Everything?’ Yeah, they could have been at least wittier and said Poppyseed, but that’s fine.
“Even though I’m Jewish, I love holiday music, I love Christmas music so much and I’m excited to getting to sing those tunes.
“I’m one of those people who definitely listens to 97.1 [Christmas songs on WASH-FM] after Thanksgiving and gets into all those Christmas tunes. I will say at one time I worked at Williams-Sonoma, the kitchen supply store, we had a Christmas CD that was only 12 songs. And there were a couple of them that I definitely couldn’t stand by the end of working there – ‘Simply having a wonderful Christmas time.’ … Wherever I was in the store, whether I was wrapping or selling peppermint bark up front, it was like: Oh, my God, it’s happening again!
“But there’s something so comforting about the holiday season — no matter what holiday you celebrate, it’s that coming together, making you aware of your fellow humans. You have this camaraderie with everyone, and you’re bundling up, gathering by said fireside, even if it’s just in your mind. I think that holiday music really evokes that comfortable sentiment. I’m really excited to be a part of it.
“I’m singing ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’ by the Carpenters, which I love, and ‘Hard Candy Christmas.’ And Priscilla, Weslie and I are doing a really fun arrangement of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You.’ There are some really cool new arrangements of traditional Christmas songs that I think people would really like.”