BWW Reviews: OH MY GOODNESS IT'S PAUL LYNDE Journeys Back to the Wild Life of the Hollywood Squares Star
Those of us who remember watching the Hollywood Squares certainly remember the center square, the one and only Paul Lynde. As one of the first openly gay entertainers on television and the stage, Lynde made no bones about who he was or his lifestyle - and it won him tons of fans, both male and female.
Directed by John Hall and based in part on Lynde's life and 1976 touring show, OH MY GOODNESS... IT'S PAUL LYNDE is produced with the full approval and cooperation of the estate of Paul Lynde, starring Michael Airingon who channels the late entertainer both in appearance, voice and attitude to a tee. The show traces Lynde's Life from his humble beginnings to his rise to stardom as one of America's funniest and biggest stars on television in the 70's, featuring voice-overs by the Master of the Hollywood Squares himself, Peter Marshall.
The show features some of Lynde's own words, performance pieces, and comedic monologues that honestly bring to life the actor's comic genius. With the show's tagtline, "In the 70's life was a bitch when you lived outside the box," Airington proceeds to tell the tale of Lynde's life with enough politically incorrect filthy one-liners to keep the audience roaring with laughter throughout the show.
Born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Lynde adored sitting on the front porch of a grand house that was not his all the while dreaming of a life of fame and fortune. After completing his studies at Northwestern University, Lynde moved to New York and was a 260 pound starving artist who roomed with others trying to make it in the Big Apple including Marlon Brando and Wally Cox. While working odd jobs, Lynde discovered he could donate blood every six weeks for $5 - and when you only can eat well that often, he was bound to lose weight. And doing so helped him land the most important role of his young life - a starring role on Broadway.
Airington is accompanied by a great trio on keyboards, drums and bass who accompany him on a rousing rendition of "Kids" from Bye Bye Birdie which brought Lynde great fame on Braodway and in the movie version. And boy do we hear stories about Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margret - quite an eye opener to hear about the drinking and how to show was changed to feature the sexy young star to bring young boys into the movie theaters.
After filming the movie, Lynde decided to stay in Hollywood and get an agent, remembered fondly as Marty. Airinton's recreation of the many auditions Lynde went on were hysterical, with each pot shot accompanied by a symbol crash. Think of Paul Lynde in A Streetcar Named Desire or Jaws and you get the idea!
With his proverbial glass of scotch in hand, Airington prances around the set. Bpouncing from bit to bit, often reacting to comments from the audience with split second timing that truly evokes the spirit of Lynde. And when he started comparing his life in the pre-digital 70's to modern terminology, his comical quips about the real meaning of IPAD, Hashtag, and Instagram (a coke dealer's wet dream) elicited more roars of laughter.
But the most entertaining part of the show happens when Airington sits down inside the Hollywood Square with his name on it center stage and proceeds to crank out some of his infamous politically incorrect, double entendre one-liners that made him the star of the show for 13 years. Most are a bit too color for me to quote here! When Lynde decided it was time to leave the show when his demands for a salary increase were not met, he was then invited back at an even higher rate after the ratings slumped when he left.
Voiceovers by Peter Marshall accompanied the Hollywood Squares moments with Marshall asking the questions and Airington perfectly mimicking Lynde, answering them in his very unique style. It's amazing that no one in the 70's complained about his politically incorrect humor, often making fun of races, religions, sexual orientation, and women. Perhaps people enjoyed his outrageous behavior so much they didn't take him seriously so there was no need to protest. Laughter truly seemed to be the best medicine for what ailed America at the time.
If you are not familiar with Lynde's appearances on the show, watch them on You Tube so you can be prepared to let Michael Airington take you back to a simpler time and place.
OH MY GOODNESS...IT'S PAUL LYNDE
Directed by John Hall, Starring Michael Airingon
Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Sat, Aug 23 - Sat, Sep 27 - Saturdays at 8PM
Reservations: 323-960-7773 or www.plays411.com/ohmygoodness
TICKETS: $30 - General Admission (All Shows)
Michael Airington channels Paul Lynde