BWW Review: Hollywood Fringe Cheers HELLO AGAIN! THE SONGS OF ALLAN SHERMAN
Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Sherman/conceived, written & produced by Linden Waddell/musical direction and accompaniment by Marjorie Poe/directed and choreographed by Janet Miller/Asylum @ Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre/remaining performances in June: Sunday 6/18 at 4 pm; Thursday 6/22 at 7 pm; and Saturday 6/24 at 11:30 am
Those who lived through the 60s surely remember TV producer/writer Allan Sherman ...as a singer! He was an overnight success in 1962 when he put out his first album of folk songs. What was hilarious was the fact that he had a terrible voice. His popularity came through his parodying the lyrics of popular songs. Thus, the descriptive subtitle of this little show Hello Again! featuring Linden Waddell and which plays the Hollywood Fringe Festival*, is a musical romp featuring the genius of Allan Sherman's parody lyrics.
Sherman (below) was fat, wore glasses and Jewish. Most musical composers were Jewish, but, as he noted, they never sang about Jewish culture or just plain being Jewish. He grabbed onto this curiosity and through the parodies gave the world his unique perspective of celebrities, politics, popculture and the curse of being overweight.
Is it a good idea for a woman, who is an awfully good legit singer to boot, to sing and pay tribute to Allan Sherman? In Linden Waddell's hands...absolutely! I must point out that this is by no means an impersonation or impression of the man. It's a musical show honoring his parodies. So, this super talented and fiercely funny actress puts all her focus on the lyrics and with her brilliant accompanist/musical director Marjorie Poe has a field day on stage. Using incredible body language and a variety of props, musical and nonmusical, Waddell traces Sherman's career from top to bottom. Poe not only accompanies, but gets into the act as the two ladies duet on "One Hippopotami" pointing out perplexing singular and plural words in English, and centerstage present a screamingly funny "Sir Greenbaum's Madrigal" to the tune of "Greensleeves".. What made it extra special funny the night I attended was that Poe, who ususally plays the recorder with Waddell on the autoharp, forgot her instrument, so had to improvise the sound of the recorder with her hands against her mouth. The unexpected happens in live theatre ... this time the error worked, at least comedically, for our enjoyment. She really knows the instruments she plays and sounded exactly like a recorder!
Other highlights of the evening are: Green Stamps to the tune of "Green Eyes", as Waddel sings and keeps pulling what seems like hundreds of green stamp pages from a box; Chopped Liver to the tune of "Moon River"; Your Mother's Here To Stay to "Love Is Here To Stay"; Skin to "Heart"; Harvey and Sheila to "Hava Nagila" providing lots of gyrations for Waddell; and of course, Sherman's signature "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh", a letter from camp that we were all allowed to join in and sing together. There are many wonderful medleys throughout. Since the show is presented at Fringe, it was cut down by a half hour, as each Fringe show must meet the requeirements of 55 minutes. As is, Waddell and Poe perform over 15 songs.
I remember "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" from my high school days when I used to sing along to it. It was a crowd pleaser...and still is. Let me tell you, I was so pleased to see young people in the audience 6/9 - who obviously were not around in Sherman's time - having a good time, laughing, clapping and swaying in their seats in time to the music. After seeing this show, I want to get the albums and listen to Sherman's music all over again.
Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Sherman is nothing short of dazzling. With great energetic pacing from director Janet Miller and a remarkable performance from Linden Waddell...and superb backup artistry from Marjorie Poe, it offers nonstop and fullout laughter, a funfilled entertainment. Don't miss it! Note the remaining times listed in the intro above.