Friday, October 8, 2010

CABARET review - Sharon McNight in Red Hot Mama

Sophie Tucker, "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas", was an iconic American singer, though Russian born, who had her early successes in vaudeville, burlesque and the Ziegfeld Follies in the early part of the 20th century. She sang risque songs about a stout woman with a hearty sexual appetite and was frequently censored, even jailed once for being accused of performing a lewd 'cuchi' dance on stage.

Actress/singer Sharon McNight has been performing as Tucker for years in a gloriously and uproariously sturdy night club act, which, more than an impersonation, becomes a loving tribute to the great lady. McNight is Tucker in voice and form and doesn't hold back for an instant. Her sense of comic timing, like that of Tucker, is impeccable, and her voice a powerhouse instrument. Chatting about her background, career and men, McNight as Tucker sings the Red Hot Mama's greatest hits and tells some hilarious anecdotes in the thoroughly entertaining 70 minute set, which plays one more show Monday October 11 at the Inner Circle of the Magic Castle at 8:30 pm.

Highlights include: a tantalizing "Hula Lou", "There'll Be Some Changes Made", the heart-tugging "My Yiddishe Mama", "Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love". a dynamic "The Man I Love", "Some of These Days", "After You've Gone" and of course, "Last of the Red Hot Mamas". Comedy rings supreme with "I'm Living Alone and Like It" after putting down 3 failed marriages, and "I Don't Want to Get Thin", in which McNight has a field day with Tucker's weight and how she gracefully 'tossed it around' to full sensual advantage.

This is the kind of club act that grabs hold of you right from the start, never lets down and then manages to blow you away at least three or four or five times. The women - Tucker and McNight, they become one and the same - pull you in and take you on a sumptuous ride that is sizzlingly satisfying. Much praise to Ron Snyder at the keys who essays the role of Ted Shapiro, Tucker's musical director.
One more show tonight only at 8:30 pm at the Magic Castle!
(bottom photo: Brian Putnam)

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