BWW Reviews: Hal Linden And David Brenner Bring Class and Comedy To The McCallum Theatre
Last night the McCallum Theatre played host to a double bill of music and comedy that, at first glance, seemed like a very odd pairing --- a duo with nothing in common – Tony winner and multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominated stage and television actor Hal Linden and comedian David Brenner, who is best known as the comic who had the greatest number of appearances on Johnny Carson's tonight show. But, what an incredible evening it was! The Common denominator was sheer talent and it paid off in spades for the near sell-out crowd. Each entertainer delivered a finely crafted, hour-long performance and either act, alone, would have been well worth the price of admission.
The show opened with the elegant Hal Linden, accompanied by a stellar seven-piece band, who firmly established his theme for the evening with an opening medley of "I'm Old Fashioned" and "Remember." From the first sixteen bars he proved he is a master of his craft --- an actor who truly understands the interpretation of a lyric and that every lyric is really a monologue set to music. He was sincere and engaging, and the twinkle in his eye and his sheer passion for performing pushes way beyond the footlights and embraces everyone in the theatre. And they embrace him back.
He broke the ice by raising the question he believed everyone had on their minds – "What the hell is Barney Miller doing singing?" And then he answered it -- over and over again -- as he turned out one outstanding performance after another, songs that he once performed with the most celebrated big bands in the country (he picked up his clarinet for a big band tribute) and on the Broadway stage, including two songs from his theatrical debut opposite Judy Holliday in "Bells Are Ringing." Perhaps the finest moment in the show was his re-creation of his Tony Award winning performance in The Rothschilds, which began with Mr. Linden sitting at a make-up table and, as he set the scene, transforming himself into the 87 year old Mayer Rothschild for the stirring monologue leading into "In My Own Lifetime."