Photo Flash: Barbara Van Orden Plays Catalina's
After a an extended absence from the stage, due to the highly publicized accident that resulted in 18 surgeries, Ms. Barbara Van Orden brought her autobiographical cabaret act to Catalina's in Los Angeles this week. Ms. Van Orden began her singing career in the Catskill mountains at Grossinger's, where she opened for individuals such as Milton Berle, Don Rickles and Red Buttons. "It was a great way to break into show biz," says Barbara.
She went on to do The Playboy Clubs working with such immortals as Buddy Hackett, Morey Amsterdam, and Soupy Sales. Barbara then landed a recurring role in the Classic TV hit Welcome Back Kotter! After that, Barbara opened for many Vegas headliners, including the legendary Shecky Green. While in Vegas, Frank Sinatra asked Barbara if she'd like to open up for him in The Persian Room at The Plaza Hotel in New York. The industry soon took notice ... and the rest as they say "is history, folks."
Among those in attendance were, Romi Dames of Hanna Montana fame and Kate Linder, who was celebrating her 28th year with The Young & the Restless. Ms. Dames remarked, "Barbara Van Orden is quintessential cabaret. She sparkled onstage and had us all cheering on our feet. No wonder she had a full house, what a fun show!" Ms. Linder added, "She has that Ethel Merman quality. A demanding presence and voice that fills the room."
Other colleagues and fans who were unable to attend sent regards for opening night, such as Florence Henderson and Theatrical icon, Carol Channing, who sent wishes for a successful evening in a note declaring, "We are so thrilled to have such a remarkable and talented lady, (Barbara), helping both Harry and I bring the arts back into the public school system. She is a true survivor and reminds me of a character with whom I am very familiar - Ms. Dolly Gallagher Levi."
Adding a tantalizing flair of Latin sex appeal to the show, were the cameo dance appearances by actor/dancer Gordi Caballero. One of the many anecdotes shared during her 75-minute act, was a reference to work with Soupy Sales, who remarked, "Barbara, I would be hitting on you if Frank hadn't put out the word." Curious, Barbara asked what was "The Word?" Soupy went on to explain, that Sinatra had made it clear that if anyone messed with Barbara, they would have to answer to him. "In the world of cabaret, women were often expected to be the desert after dinner shows ... Thank God for Sinatra and The Word!"
Under the musical direction of Ron Snyder, who has worked at the Rose Tattoo, Luna Park, Romeo & Juliet's, Maldanado's, the Cinegrill, the Gardenia and Monteleone's West for many of L.A. 's finest singers and performers, including Melanie Griffith, Brooke Shields, Rita Wilson and Lisa Rinna as their L.A. rehearsal pianist for their Broadway and London debuts as Roxie Hart in Chicago, patrons were treated to classics such as Everything Coming Up Roses, From This Moment On, Gotta Have Friends, When Your Good to Momma, That's Amore, Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend, and her own Stock Market Medley. Ms. Van Orden was rewarded with a standing ovation.
Photo Credit: Bill Dow
Barbara Van Orden sing her â€œStock Market Medleyâ€?
Barbara Van Orden on stage with Gordi Caballero
Barbara Van Orden takes the stage